The Michigan House of Representatives Energy Policy Committee Meeting
5G Wireless Technology Infrastructure Hearing
Part One of Six
As I sat on one of the hard wooden cushion less chairs provided to “the people,” in Room 519 of the Anderson House Office Building in Lansing, MI, waiting for the beginning of the Energy Policy committee hearing on the Senate Bills 0637 and 0894 (regarding the approval of infrastructure needed to implement the advancement of wireless technology from its current 4G to 5G), my very first NOTED observation was the upside down configuration of that very room.
It seemed illogical to me that the elevated hardwood podium and cushy leather-bound, stuffed and swiveled chairs were provided to the public servants of the people, instead of being provided to the bosses of those public servants. “We the people” should be sitting in those expensive, comfortable chairs and the hard wooden row cushion less chairs should have been provided to the public servants who are supposed to be working for us.
That observation basically sets the stage for my opinion of the government we have formed seemingly of, by and for the public servants.
The hearing began with the Sprint, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile representatives (I called them The Music Men of Technology), being interrupted by the Senator who championed these bills in the first place, Senator Joe Hune, R-District 22.
Senator Hune spoke of having moved to a small town named Gregory where the Internet connection was non-existent. He said that it’s funny that his three year old thinks that, “Internet is a basic human right,” and his three year old “hollers every time the Internet goes out.” NOTE: If Internet service is non-existent, how did it go out? These remarks didn’t exactly give me a feeling of great comfort that the good citizens of Hamburg had used the requisite discernment in electing the best and the brightest when they gave Mr. Joseph Hune that Senate seat. But, then, everybody makes a bad joke, once in a while. Just ask Rosanne Barr.
Senator Hune went on to mention “our (his/their) friends” at Frontier, who provided some Internet service to the area where he lives. NOTE: I thought Internet was “non-existent” where he lived? Forget it. Oh, and by the way, most people don’t have any “friends” at any Internet Service Provider. We just pay them money for service. But then, that’s us, and most of us are not Senators.
Senator Hune continued by indicating that “the bills before them would not address rural Internet service, but that it would break down the government barriers to investment in Internet service.” He then described what 5G is, by saying, “it is approximately 20 times faster than 4G,” and “you can download 20 movies in the time it takes to download one movie.”
NOTE: As if downloading 20 movies were the criteria for a good life in America. I wasn’t overly impressed. Nor was I impressed when Senator Hune admitted that, “it was ‘kinda funny’ that he would champion a piece of legislation based on technology, because he’d just as soon not even have a cell phone.”
NOTE: Another bad joke that was not at all funny (I wonder if Senator Hune “championed” these bills because of campaign contributions added to his coffers from the Music Men of Technology). I also didn’t find it funny when he said that 5G was almost indispensable to the “autonomous vehicle wave that is coming,” being as this was a statement that was later challenged and seemingly refuted.
The AT&T Music Man then spoke up saying that small cell technology is “new and crucially important technology needed to increase broadband capacity in areas where large amounts of people are using a vast array of wireless devices to search and download a lot of information.” It will “also serve as a cornerstone on the coming 5G networks.” And it will “help usher in innovations like The Internet of Things, Driverless Vehicles and Smart Cities.” NOTE: Say what?
Mr. Verizon Music Man spoke next. He really didn’t have much to say other than to identify the words “small cells” versus existing “macro towers” and the ability of small cells to be incorporated easily into the existing macro towers – NOTE: I might mention that Senator Joe Hune at one point gave the impression that “small cells” were about the size of a briefcase.
Mr. Verizon Music Man then passed the microphone to Mr. Sprint Music Man. He spoke of the process; as in the number of hours of work and compromise that went into these pieces of legislation.
Then a consultant spoke on behalf of T-Mobile, obviously in support of the bills. He complimented the Chair for “doing a great job.”
Then a lawyer for AT&T (I call him Mr. Slick AT&T Attorney) spoke about the “compromise” in the bills; as in the process for fees, rents and access; a uniform process for permitting timelines; tools for authorities to protect aesthetics of the right of way; placement spacing requirements to avoid “clustering,” and height restrictions – new poles are to be under 40 feet of above ground level and collocation on existing poles of no higher than 5 feet above existing structure. NOTE: Quite a bit of mumbo-jumbo, (and quite a bit of footage for a briefcase sized small cell, isn’t it)? But then, confusing even the simplest issue, so that no one understands much of anything said, is what attorneys seem to do best. Good job, Mr. Slick AT&T Attorney.
Then we listened to highly questionable questions posed by our public servants. It doesn’t get much better (or worse), than this. NOTE: I suppose that depended upon whether you were sitting in a cushy leather chair or a hard wooden chair.
The Michigan House of Representatives Energy Policy Committee Meeting
5G Wireless Technology Infrastructure Hearing
Part Two of Six
I suspect “hearings” conducted by the myriad Senate and House “committees” in states across this nation have similar questionable discourse revealed in my analysis of the conversations and questions posited by the people whom we have elected to represent us. This is troubling at best and tragic at worst. I would like to think that the People deserve better than this … or do we? NOTE: We elected them.
Once the aforementioned presentations were completed by The Music Men of Technology and Mr. Slick AT&T Attorney (see Part One of Six) that began the Michigan House Energy Policy committee hearing on Senate Bills 0637 and 0894 (regarding the approval of infrastructure needed to implement the advancement of wireless technology from its current 4G to 5G), our House representatives began their much anticipated questioning.
State Representative Tristin Cole R-District 105, began the questioning by asking The Music Men of Technology to outline the size of the small cell boxes and to let us know if there was any current infrastructure in the Right of Ways.
Mr. Slick AT&T Attorney fielded the question. He looked at Page 7 of the 36 page SB 0637 and said, “Each antenna had to be within 6 cubic feet of the associated equipment, and on Page 8 with 25 cubic feet, down from 28 cubic feet – that’s the size of the structures we are talking about.” NOTE: This answer was to me about as clear as mud, especially when I still had this image of a briefcase-sized piece of equipment to which Senator Hune had alluded.
Mr. Slick AT&T Attorney continued to say that each of the wireless companies would have “different deployments.” NOTE: “Deployments” – isn’t that a military word? I’m just asking.
House Energy Policy Committee Chairman Representative Gary Glenn R-District 98, posed the following question(s): “Will each company … will have different sets of poles? Each carrier has different network needs? The preference is to “deploy” on existing poles … but these poles are low powered antenna, they only propagate 300 to 800 feet or so, so there may be a need for new poles?
Mr. Slick AT&T Attorney furtively answered, “It depends.” Chairman Glenn seemed satisfied with this vague answer, because he immediately then asked about the distance between poles.
Mr. Slick AT&T Attorney said, “That answer also is: ‘It depends.’ What we are talking about is another layer to existing wireless that’s out there – You have macro towers that propagate a mile or so. There is an extraordinary increase in data usage over the last ten years. You have to build more capacity into the network. You can’t create new spectrum and so to do that, they are bringing these smaller facilities down closer to the user. The key component is capacity. The frequencies used allow very low latency. You can’t afford to have poor latency. You need zero latency which is an important part.” NOTE: Wouldn’t “zero” latency be less than “low” latency or even “poor” latency? Move along; nothing here. No one challenged him.
Then State Representative Donna Lasinski D-District 52 inquired about rural reach. Her “concern is that the citizens who sent letters of support actually had the impression that this new service was going to give them Internet access that presently does not exist.”
Mr. Slick AT&T Attorney replied: “This is not a solution for unserved areas.”
Rep Lasinski’s second question was about “access equity” – enhancing service instead of expanding service. She asked, “How would this close the equity gap?” Mr. Slick AT&T Attorney answered by speaking of zoning challenges that might have impeded coverage where certain areas that don’t have 4G could receive small cell that would provide 4G and 5G in the future.
No follow-up question to that murky answer either, but Rep. Lasinski wasn’t finished. She then pontificated upon the digital divide being mostly along socio- economic means by pointing out that “the people who can’t afford any other devices but a cell phone are much more dependent upon their cell phones.” She continued by saying that she “believes this bill will close the digital divide,” but then she said that “the bill will possibly exacerbate the divide, just because we are seeing increased investment in our urban areas that will use the necessary capital dollars that will not be available to expand in rural areas.”
NOTE: Leave it to an Ann Arbor Democrat to make the case for and against the same issue in one fell class-warfare-observation swoop.
Rep. Lasinski’s next brilliant question: “When technology is moving very quickly. When 5G becomes 7G, 8Z, who knows … how does the bill provide for the removal and discarding of old equipment?” NOTE: As if the most pressing problem with “8Z” (if it comes to that exponential alphanumerical technology requirement) would be the discarding of old equipment, rather than the potential exponential destruction of our children’s health!
Mr. Slick AT&T Attorney said that there is language in “here” that addresses removal. He offered to point the committee to where it is, if that would be helpful. He also said that there was language in the bill that requires written notification to the city when a site is no longer being used and that he thinks there was specific language in the bill that would allow the city to do “it” if the company didn’t. He wanted to point out the specific language.
Ms. Ann Arbor Democrat Donna Lapinski said “That’s okay, we’ll have it “poled up” right there. (NOTE: Not funny) … she “just wanted to make sure “that” was addressed, because it was another concern of her community.” NOTE: Finally she was finished, but I’m not … Oh, and, by the way, the community is not hers; she belongs to the community (see Part Three of Six).