Soapbox

Jerry Brown can help bring a wireless revolution

In this product image provided by Alcatel-Lucent, a number of lightRadio cubes are shown. This small cell-phone antenna can be deployed on lamp posts, buildings, and other places that can't accommodate a full-sized antenna for wireless activation.
In this product image provided by Alcatel-Lucent, a number of lightRadio cubes are shown. This small cell-phone antenna can be deployed on lamp posts, buildings, and other places that can't accommodate a full-sized antenna for wireless activation. AP

Gov. Jerry Brown can bring the wireless revolution to California by signing Senate Bill 649.

Telecommunications access is a necessity in the modern world, so much so that governments around the world pay to subsidize wireless deployment. My legislation, SB 649, does not rely on taxpayers to finance these strategic investments.

Small cells attached to utility poles, rather than large cell towers, will be the instruments of choice for unleashing private investment to increase network capacity. But unfortunately, the regulatory environment prevents an equitable geographic build out of a communications network.

Municipalities can hold our vital wireless system hostage by charging exorbitant fees for access to utility poles. This defies logic. San Jose, for example, blocks wireless investment by exceeding the asking price for installing a small cell on its poles by an astounding $14,500 per pole per year. San Francisco and Oakland also are proposing fees of several thousand dollars per pole, per year.

My legislation would bring an end to this madness and encourage investment to increase capacity needed to serve low-income communities. Municipalities no longer would be able to gouge. The cost of the build-out would be reduced and more telecommunications companies could enter the market and compete. Fair competition will mean lower phone bills.

If cities and counties are allowed to charge monopoly prices, consumers will be denied the benefits of improved capacity. But if the governor signs my legislation, wireless companies could meet consumer demand while also providing good paying jobs in California.

The ultra-fast speed and near-zero latency of next-generation wireless connectivity is a prerequisite for companies that are on the cutting-edge of innovation. It is a top criterion for companies looking to expand.

I am proud that more than 150 business, community and public safety organizations support my bill. We worked to craft legislation that has been thoroughly vetted to protect our state’s leadership position without leaving any communities behind. Gov. Brown is a visionary who supports technological advances. That why I hope he signs SB 649.

Sen. Ben Hueso is a San Diego Democrat, senator.hueso@senate.ca.gov.

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