California muni broadband battle continues, with or without federal advice

4 December 2017 by Steve Blum
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Even if it’s adopted as is – and it’s as likely to get worse as it is to get better – a wish list of muni-stomping broadband policy drafted by a Federal Communications Commission advisory group, and echoed by the FCC majority, probably won’t have much impact in California.

That’s not necessarily good news for Californian cities and counties, though. One of the recommendations – grant cable franchises on a statewide basis with an impossibly light and delicate regulatory touch – has been law here for more than ten years.… More

U.S. senate looks at stomping local wireless property rights and permits

3 November 2017 by Steve Blum
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A draft bill bouncing around the U.S senate would preempt state and local ownership of public property when wireless companies want to use it, and would put tight limits on state and local authority to issue permits for wireless facilities on private property. It’s a bipartisan effort, led by senators John Thune (R – South Dakota) and Brian Schatz (D – Hawaii), both of whom are major congressional broadband policy players.

In a lot of ways, it resembles senate bill 649, which was approved by the California legislature this year then vetoed by governor Jerry Brown, who wanted a “more balanced solution”.… More

The hunt is on for a "balanced solution" to preemption of local wireless discretion

19 October 2017 by Steve Blum
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Preemption of municipal ownership of street lights and other vertical infrastructure failed in Sacramento this year because of overreach, not because there’s fundamental opposition to the concept. Mobile carriers and other telecoms companies will deploy bus loads of lobbyists armed with bags of cash sincerely worded nonsense arguments to push it through again next year.

The California legislature approved senate bill 649 by a slim, but sufficient, margin. Governor Jerry Brown finally nixed it, but said in his veto message that “there is something of real value in having a process that results in extending this innovative technology rapidly and efficiently”.… More

Wireless lobbyists will keep swinging in the California legislature

17 October 2017 by Steve Blum
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By Fcb981 (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Senate bill 649 is dead, following a late night veto by California governor Jerry Brown. In his veto message, he was sympathetic to the needs of mobile carriers and other wireless providers, but called for a better balance with the interests local governments have in managing the public right of way.

Translation: try again next year, with something that’s not quite so one-sided.

It’s a sure bet that wireless carriers and their lobbying fronts will be back, along with cable companies, wireline telcos and their lobbyists looking for their slice of the bacon.… More

Brown approves $300 million gift to telcos but vetoes streetlight giveaway

16 October 2017 by Steve Blum
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Nobody says it like Linda.

Just before the clock hit midnight last night, California governor Jerry Brown signed assembly bill 1665 into law, but vetoed senate bill 649.
AB 1665 takes effect immediately. It lowers California minimum broadband service standard to 6 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload speeds and adds $300 million to the California Advanced Services Fund for broadband infrastructure, to be spent under rules will give it to AT&T and Frontier in exchange for token upgrades.… More

Still waiting for Brown to decide and the dust to clear on California broadband bills

15 October 2017 by Steve Blum
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Forty years ago, when Jerry Brown was in his first term as California’s governor and I was a cub reporter covering the capitol, he had a reputation for agonising over his legislative decisions right up to the last minute. As he went on to a second term, and then a third and fourth, he and his office became more disciplined and efficient, and usually finished working through the stack of bills sent by the legislature with time to spare.… More

California broadband decisions down to the final day

15 October 2017 by Steve Blum
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Governor Jerry Brown signed 40 bills into law yesterday, and vetoed 14 more, but didn’t act on the two major pieces of broadband legislation sitting on his desk: assembly bill 1665, which would lower California’s minimum service standard to 6 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds, and senate bill 649, which preempts local ownership of street light poles and other vertical infrastructure.
He did approve AB 1145 which gives cable companies public money reserved for public utilities, without public utility obligations.… More

One way or another, major California broadband policy decisions due this weekend

14 October 2017 by Steve Blum
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**Update, 15 October 2017, 0754**: no decision yet on AB 1665 or SB 649. Governor Brown signed AB 1145 into law yesterday.
There are two significant broadband-related bills remaining on governor Jerry Brown’s desk, and one relatively minor one, and he’s leaving them until the last minute. For each, he must choose one of three options by 11:59 p.m. Sunday:

  • Sign it into law.
  • Veto it.
  • Do nothing and let it become law automatically Monday morning, at the stroke of midnight.

Big telecom cash and influence buys three big wins in California legislature

16 September 2017 by Steve Blum
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The California legislature slipped past its midnight deadline last night, and kept working, or not, for a couple hours into the morning. From a broadband perspective, it didn’t make much difference. Assembly bill 375 never made it to a floor vote in the senate, let alone to the necessary final vote in the assembly.

As a result, California will not enact Internet privacy rules that were axed earlier this year by congressional republicans and the Trump administration.… More

Big telecom money sets up clean sweep of broadband bills in Sacramento

15 September 2017 by Steve Blum
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One key broadband bill is on its way to governor Brown’s desk, another is likely to follow and a third is heading for oblivion. That result will be a trifecta for telephone and cable companies who came to the table with deep pockets full of campaign cash and even longer arms to hand it out.

Senate bill 649 won narrow, bipartisan approval in the senate yesterday. The tally was 22 yes votes – 21 were needed – with 10 noes and 8 abstentions.… More