Suggestions from Scott on how to go on the offensive:
Local government is a large consumer of telecom services. They are paying inflated rates because of the misallocations we identified. They can act on this in two ways.
–– First, they can spearhead an effort to get the state commission to start a proceeding to devise state specific cost accounting, affiliate transactions, and separations rules. The DC Circuit opinion makes plain they have been -– and are now –– free to do so, despite most commissions' belief they were preempted. Maine, for example, expressly ruled it was preempted a few years ago. The Court has now said they are not.
–– Second, local government often negotiates contracts for telecom service in lieu of paying tariffed rates. Those contracts typically incorporate tariffed intrastate rates, terms, and conditions. They should negotiate harder –– because it is clear that the tariffed rates are excessive and not suitable for a negotiated rate.
–– I can confidently predict that if a local taxing jurisdiction performed a tax audit of telephone, wireless and other communications companies and got deep into the plant records, they would find the companies are uniformly undervaluing the property they have in the jurisdiction. … –– and they claim the plant (that they do admit to having) is worth less than it really is.
–– There is more fiber than the companies say
The local jurisdictions should do a rigorous audit … to end up getting additional tax receipts for past and future years. Aside from the fiscal windfall, it is a good way to respond to the wireless companies' bullying.
–– When the local jurisdiction is negotiating franchise or right of way (ROW) agreements, they should require the company to fully disclose all of the dark, grey, and lit fiber in the area –– and supplement as more goes in.
–– They should also demand placement of more fiber that would support service to the home or small business, not just to wireless towers.
–– And then require the companies to allow use of that fiber for home/small office service rather than just to be backhaul from towers.
Stretched Thin and Feeling the Squeeze:The Harmful Effects of Small Cell Preemption on Local Governments