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Why is DeKalb County making access to wireline broadband harder?

DeKalb County, Georgia is facing a lawsuit from T-Mobile over the county’s revocation of a land development permit months after the permit was apparently approved.  T-Mobile’s intent was to build a stand alone telecommunications tower for use in providing mobile service.

T-Mobile alleges that DeKalb County’s primary reason for doing a 180-degree turn on the permit was based on a policy by DeKalb’s interim chief executive officer and that the County’s actions were a violation of the Communications Act of 1934.

The complaint is filed in the United States District Court-District of Northern Georgia, Atlanta Division.  The case number is 1:13-cv-03447-TWT.

The county’s response to T-Mobile’s complaint was not what I would call responsive.  Spending 24 pages basically saying that we have no information upon which to base a response was disconcerting to say the least.  More important is what appears to be a total disregard for the impact the County’s revocation of a land development permit would mean for delivery of wireless voice and broadband services.

While acknowledging T-Mobile’s statutory authority under the Communications Act for filing the complaint, DeKalb County didn’t take the opportunity to rebut T-Mobile’s assertions that deploying this tower was part of the overall statutory mandate under Section 151 of the Act to provide a nationwide communications network providing universal access by all Americans.

As T-Mobile rightfully points out in its complaint, the penetration by wireless subscribers to our nationwide, private sector provided network is over 312 million subscribers, basically every man woman, and child in America.  These subscribers are accessing knowledge and information markets for a myriad of reasons including accessing basic news, learning about current events, purchasing educational services, , conducting commercial transactions, engaging in financial transactions, and transmitting health related data.

DeKalb County’s revocation of the land development permit means less access to increasingly scarce spectrum necessary for accessing and using broadband technology.

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