Sprint relying on word games to reengineer its cellular network

15 July 2016 by Steve Blum
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Click for the big, ugly picture.

Mobilitie, a mobile telecoms infrastructure company, was hired by Sprint to install 70,000 new wireless sites as it tries to revamp its network and business. Fair enough. But then Mobilitie got cute when it started filing the necessary permit applications.

First, it adopted legal aliases – California Utility Pole Authority and California Transmission Network, LLC, for example – that have a vaguely official ring to them, and seem confusingly similar to the names of legitimate joint utility pole authority groups and electricity transmission organisations.

Then, it tried labelling its planned 120-foot towers as “utility poles” and began applying for permits to install them, for free, in public right of ways rather than renting space on private or public property, as cell tower companies are supposed to do. That didn’t go over well in Yolo County (h/t to @OmarMasry for the pointer)…

Yolo County recently denied an encroachment permit application from a telecommunications group that proposed to install eight, 120-foot tall, communications towers within County road rights-of-way…Though their application stated that the group wanted to install 120-foot tall “utility poles,” these types of installations are considered communications towers, and would be subject to a use permit(s) in Yolo County. Four and one half foot diameter towers (at their base) were proposed by this group to be squeezed within narrow County road rights-of-way. These locations apparently would provide optimal service to potential customers, and of additional benefit to the group, would not require property or right-of-way acquisition.

Mobilitie got similar push back in Indiana and Florida. As well it should. Mobile broadband service might be a public utility, but that doesn’t mean any stick it plants in the ground is a “utility pole”. Calling a monopole tower by a different name changes nothing, unless the people reviewing the permit applications aren’t paying attention to the details.