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Judge rules there's nothing wrong with Cambridge requiring a company to say how it will power those chonky light-pole wireless things

A federal judge today told a wireless company to do a better job of filling out applications the next time it wants to install some of those utility poles/wireless transmitters in Cambridge.

In a ruling today, US District Court Judge Allison Boroughs dismissed a lawsuit by Extenet Systems against the Cambridge Pole and Conduit Commission over the commission's decision to reject five of the company's proposed "small cell wireless installations" in the city because its applications did not specify how the company would power the wireless devices or how data would be fed into them.

ExteNet, which replaces old light poles with girthier poles encasing wireless transmitters and antennas, all connected via a fiber-optic network to wireless carriers for a fee, said the rejection represented discrimination against it and inhibited the provision of "personal wireless services," a violation of federal telecommunications law.

Poppycock, Burroughs wrote, although in more words and with numerous legal citations, for example:

Where ExteNet’s complaint and its original applications fail to show the existence of a coverage gap, it is impossible to infer that the denial of ExteNet’s applications has the effect of prohibiting the provision of wireless services.

The company also failed to show how answering questions about how it would provide power and data connectivity to the new poles is somehow discriminatory or prevents the company from competing in Cambridge, the judge ruled, adding the company failed to prove that Cambridge had allowed competitors to put in similar poles without answers to its questions.

Also: Extenet knew the answer to both questions - it would lease the transmitters to AT&T, which would provide both power and the data - but the company decided not to seek an allowed extension to amend the applications with the information.

Free tagging: 
PDF icon Complete ruling128.31 KB

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Why would the company want to be so secretive about basic utility information to the point of fighting a federal case over it?

Voting closed 5

Companies need to get a permit if you want to run new utility lines. So if this company just assumed they could rip up the street to run their own power & data lines to the poles they'd be shut down by the city anyway.

Beyond that, why should it matter to Cambridge if this company is working with AT&T, Verizon, National Grid, etc?

Voting closed 5

Probably because the fact that they would not say meant Cambridge feared the company was planning to leech off municipal power meant for traffic signals and street lights.

Voting closed 25

Any company caught doing this would be in for a world of legal pain since it would be outright theft and violate all sorts of codes.

Physical pain too, since no one is going to de-energize those circuits just because they got an unsolicited phone call asking them to do so.

Voting closed 4

So Extenet, rather than fill in a form completely, stamped their feet and sued instead. Totally unnecessary suit for which they should pay the costs for both sides.

Voting closed 7

Is this related to the brown metal tubes that recently got attached to the bottom 6 feet of telephone poles around Cambridge?

Voting closed 14

But I wonder if those are 5G systems.

Voting closed 3

instead of dressing up the bait and switch which occurred throughout City neighborhoods.

Enormous 3x3 x5 ft boxes, which are also, noisy obstructions are deemed okay on narrow sidewalks that are *supposedly* too narrow to have trees replanted.

When the company shopped these to the neighborhoods, they showed slimline poles, and promised they wouldn't be on "decorative pole" streets. Instead, they are everywhere, and significantly detract from the streetscape.

Voting closed 4

I hate those poles. They take away from already narrow sidewalks, they're noisy, and they continue this idea that the limited space for pedestrians is fair game for everybody else.

Put your shit high on the pole, so it's not in the way.

Voting closed 5