Handcuffing Cities to Help Telecom Giants

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[Commentary] It is good to be one of the handful of companies controlling data transmission in America. It’s even better — from their perspective — to avoid oversight. And it’s best of all to be a carrier that gets government to actually stop existing oversight. The stagnant telecommunications industry in America has long pursued the second of those goals — avoiding oversight, or even long-range thinking that would favor the interests of all other businesses and all other Americans over those of AT&T, Verizon, Charter, and Comcast — by proclaiming that there is something really magnificent coming any day now from the industry that will make anything regulators are worrying about irrelevant. And now that technique is at the heart of achieving Goal Three—wiping out oversight.

Case in point: Right now, plans are being implemented at the FCC and at least 17 state legislatures to block cities from constraining uses of their rights-of-way by private cellular companies for 5G deployments that — you guessed it — are coming any day now. In other words, if a city wants to set up a fair and competitive system that favors competitors, citizens, and long-range goals instead of the interests of a single big company—well, that would be illegal. This nationwide effort is aimed at, effectively, privatizing public rights of way.


Handcuffing Cities to Help Telecom Giants