Even 2nd Graders Would Laugh & Complain if They Heard FCC Brendan Carr’s 5G Wireless Fairy Tales.

Bruce Kushnick
13 min readNov 27, 2018


To all of the 2nd graders (and others) reading this; I apologize for the FCC’s data and analysis about something called “5G” wireless. Unlike what they teach you in school, these days the government agencies, like the FCC, (which has oversight over your family’s wireless, cable, online and phone services) are filled with lawyers, like FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, or Chairman Ajit Pai, who worked for the large corporations, like AT&T and Verizon. That’s why they just make stuff up or they just plagiarize other group’s work specifically written to help the companies. No one really cares about this 5G stuff except these companies and those they have hyped — because this is just about making more money.

This is kind of like the bullies at school that no one wants to stand up to; that’s why they can get away with it.

Let me explain.

The picture above is an old map of “The Mile Square” in Indianapolis, Indiana, which is the center of town and was designed in 1821 to mimic the plan for Washington DC. We added the red ‘diamonds’ to show where 5G small cells might be placed. I’ll get back to this in a moment.

5G Wireless is trying to be Santa Claus in tech and communications, promising gifts-a-plenty. On September 4th 2018, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr made an announcement in the Senate Statehouse in Indianapolis, Indiana, located in this very square mile, and then Carr took the lead and had the FCC pass new regulations, (which are now being challenged), to do this plan.

The plan? The FCC and companies claim that no one cares about using the wires anymore, even in the home or office, even for broadband service. The FCC claims that if it gets rid of basic rights and obligations on the companies, and it blocks (preempts) the rights of cities and states to manage the wireless services in their cities, and it doesn’t push for upgrading America to bring fiber optic services to the home, schools and businesses anymore — then, putting up lots of small wireless “5G” cell sites on street lamps, etc., will be much, much better.

Most of the fast broadband and internet services rely on physical wires that come into your home because they can supply much higher speeds and deliver it with much higher amounts of ‘gigs’ without a slowdown. A fiber optic wire, then, is the next generation of these wired networks.

This is important because the size of games has been going crazy. How-to Geek writes:

“Modern games are nearing 100 GB in download size. Red Dead Redemption 2 on Xbox One requires an 88.57 GB download. The PC version of Middle-earth: Shadow of War is 97.7 GB. Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition requires a 75 GB download, and that’s without the 4K texture pack.”

Please don’t laugh when I tell you that all 5G and almost all wireless requires a fiber optic wire to the cell sites or that “unlimited wireless” plans now supply only 20–30 GB, then slow down. (And no one can figure out how these wireless companies can claim that they are offering ‘unlimited’ when they are not — and get away with it!)

The FCC’s 5G Fairy Tale: Scarier than Little Red Riding Hood

Related to the first picture, this next picture is the original “The Mile Square” map in Indianapolis. Notice that this plan was done using a street ‘grid’, meaning that the streets are lined up neatly. This type of street grid design, in fact, goes back thousands of years, and can be found in ancient Rome or in China.

On the first map we added red ‘diamonds’ that represent a low estimate of how many ‘5G wireless’ small cell sites it would take to cover this one Mile Square.

The FCC’s Claims and 5G Coverage are Ridiculous.

Here is where you may want to hold your nose. By second grade, most kids can tell the difference between Santa Claus and some fat guy dressed in a red suit, ringing a Big Bell to collect money, then pocketing it.

  • First, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr claims that after the most intensive investment in America, there are over 1,000 small cell sites in Indiana!

“…In Indianapolis this year, making the city home to the most intensive 5G investment in America. In total, providers have built more than 1,000 small cells in 30 communities across the Hoosier state.”

  • Second, Carr and the FCC claim this is going to benefit rural areas, save money, and even close something called the “Digital Divide”.

“According to a recent study, Carr’s plan will save $2 billion in unnecessary fees, stimulate $2.5 billion in additional small cell deployments, and create more than 27,000 jobs. The action will also help close the digital divide, providing new connections to those who need them most. The economic analysis shows that Carr’s plan will see two million more homes served by small cells — 97% of them in rural and suburban communities.”

These numbers are what grown-ups called ‘ass-pulled’, a technical term you will learn by the time you’re in middle or high school. Here’s just a few holes in these numbers.

  • 1000 small cells sounds like a very large number, but it may not even cover this one square mile.
  • No where does the FCC discuss that a service with a range of 500–1000 feet will never, ever, cover most rural areas, much less suburban areas.
  • No where does the FCC or Carr mention that these cell sites all have to be attached to a fiber optic wire — every 500–1000 feet, at best, and the first map with the diamonds shows that it requires wiring the entire area — the Mile Square.
  • None of these savings that are mentioned will ever happen because the companies will never roll out the fiber optic wires.
  • The FCC never mentions that wireline phone customers in rural areas or low income areas will be paying for the wires used for wireless or that the wireless companies pay a fraction of the expenses to use the wires once they are put in.
  • FCC Brendan Carr never mentions that his announcement plagiarized (stole) the homework from a group called “ALEC”, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and he has handed in these new regulations as if they were the FCC’s own work
  • There is no mention that there were already plans for AT&T Indiana to give customers very high speed fiber optic broadband over 25 years ago, and customers were charged for these upgrades multiple times.

The Difference of Make-Believe vs Facts.

1000 small cell sites sound impressive until you realize it may not cover one square mile or a couple of areas for demonstration.

5Gamericas.org is an industry group and they claim it takes 200–1000 small cells to be deployed for one square kilometer.

“To achieve the coverage and capacity levels required to deliver a fully connected society, small cells need to be deployed in a dense or even hyperdense manner, with some operators planning to roll out 200 or even more cells per square kilometer for high traffic environments like urban city centers and stadiums in the next few years. With 5G, that density will increase further; 5G is envisaged to support one million connections per square kilometer, which could involve 1,000 small cells in some scenarios.”

What this gobbledygook says is — in large ‘stadiums’, where lots of people want to make calls and send videos of the plays, you need lots of small cells, especially during the 7th inning stretch or half-time in a Colts game in Lucas Oil Stadium, which is part of the Mile Square Walk — or even from “the largest single-day sporting event in the world, the Indianapolis 500”.

Worse, this quote is for kilometers, not miles. One mile is 5,280 feet and one kilometer is 3,281 feet; a fraction of one mile. But these numbers are for ‘square’ miles and kilometers — and there is a very big difference, as shown in the chart below.

Calculating a Square Mile of Small Cells

According to Sylvan Learning, the second grade level of math requires adding, subtraction, counting, and some multiplication. So, based on the current information, (and pushing the 2nd grade math skills a bit)…

A square has 4 sides, all the same length. So, a square mile is 1 mile on each side.

  • One 5G wireless small cell site has a range of 1–2 blocks, about 500–1000 feet — so lots of small devices are needed, just like the first marked-up picture.
  • Since each cell site is small, it can only be useful up to a certain distance; then it craps out.
  • Example: You are with your friends and hangin’ in the backyard listening to the Hampsterdance song. You have to leave, and the farther away you are from the speakers, the volume of the song goes down until you can’t hear it anymore.

This is the same — the farther you are from one of the cell ‘antennas’, the power for them to work goes way down; that’s why they want to put in a lot of them. Worse, most of these antennas require a “line of sight”, meaning it has a straight line from the cell site to your cell phone, tablet, or TV, and this means they need even more antennas due to the service being blocked by buildings or trees that can all get in the way. (Even the “rain” can screw with these things, known as “rain fade”, really).

  • A “square mile” is a box, 1 mile by 1 mile
  • There are 5,280 feet in one mile. Let’s ‘round it’ to 5000 feet.
  • At 500 feet, you can count ALL of the sites — 10 rows with 10 sites each — 100 cell sites in 1 mile.
  • 100 cell sites would be 1 mile — 1000 cell sites would have only 10 square miles of coverage, if there aren’t any obstructions.

Considering the industry is claiming 200–1000 cell sites per kilometer, 500 feet is a reasonable estimate (and it is the number used in various franchises, including Boston MA).

The Square Mile Coloring Book

This next picture is the original Mile Square Indianapolis area using Google Maps. Things have changed since the original 1821 design, it would seem. And this map is set at 2000 feet; notice the ‘legend’ giving the size and ‘length’ on the lower right hand side.

But, let’s go to another map snapshot. This one is magnified further and on the bottom right you can see that the length is 500 feet. We added some red lines to signify that each city block is about 500 feet long and wide — basically small squares to make one large square mile.

And here is why this whole thing is hooey. This next picture overlays the 500 foot picture of the same area with the original 2000 foot picture.

According to Walk Indianapolis, the Hoosier city is 370 square miles.

“Although Indianapolis has grown to more than 370 square miles, the original ‘mile square’ remains the physical, economic, and cultural center of the city.”

According to Netstate, there are 36,420 square miles in Indiana alone, and it is 38th State based on size.

Worse, even if you say — but the wireless companies will only be doing parts of a square mile, if you were to draw a straight line and have small cell coverage, it would only be about 100 miles in 1 straight line, with no distractions. (This is not based on a square mile). 10 small cells at 500 feet would be about 1 mile, 100 would cover10 miles, 1000 cells would be 100 miles.

Oh, oh. — The companies would also have to put in 100 miles of fiber optic wires just to do this feat.

Does anyone really believe that rural areas are going to be covered? This is a grown-up joke for — We can fool most of the people all of the time as it is impossible to cover rural areas covering hundreds of miles.

Did Brendan Carr Do His Homework or Just Copy the New Regulations from Others?

Brendan Carr previously worked for Verizon, AT&T and their associations, the CTIA, the wireless association, and USTelecom. In fact, when he presented the 5G plan in Indianapolis, it appears that it was not even written by him but most likely by the American Legislative Exchange Council, where 20 states appear to have used the same 5G ALEC bill. This fact has been omitted by Commissioner Carr.

Commissioner Carr states:

“We do so by providing updated guidance on the types of local reviews that, in regulatory parlance, can materially inhibit or effectively prohibit small cell deployment. But by taking a balanced approach, we show respect for the work of state legislatures, including Indiana’s. We do not disturb nearly any of the provisions in the 20 state small cell bills that have been enacted.

And Rep. Kathy Byron, State Representative, Virginia states:

“Your determination to come forward with a plan — modeled on the regulatory reforms enacted in 20 states, including Virginia– increasing access to 5G connectivity will positively affect the lives of people across our nation.”

Maybe he should be sent to detention…or even expelled, not just for ‘lifting’ someone else’s homework or for just making things up. The FCC is using someone else’s homework and doesn’t even bother to name who they took it from or that the funders of ALEC include AT&T and Verizon, the wireless companies. All this helps the companies and not the public.

The Networks Should have Already Been Upgraded to Fiber Optics.

As we pointed out previously and we want to re-emphasize one crucial point — the company that is the state utility in Indiana, AT&T Indiana, was supposed to have committed billions over time to build what was called the Information Superhighway, starting way back in 1993 — way before any second grader was born.

“Finally, the Opportunity Indiana Plan recognizes the need for Indiana Bell to provide a high level of new investment to achieve and maintain a state-of-the-art telecommunication infrastructure.”

The goal, even in the 1993 Indiana Bell (now AT&T) proposal, was to remove regulations and raise rates, but that wasn’t what they told the public. The testimony of AT&T-Indiana Bell Telephone Company, put it succinctly, but in telephone-wonk-talk.

“Indiana Bell now presents Opportunity Indiana, a progressive plan which is designed to protect the price of Basic Local service through a rate stability index, provide equal freedom to Indiana Bell to respond to competitive actions and as a consequence of reform, eliminate the outmoded and costly rate of return regulatory process. In response to approval of the total package of these forward looking initiatives by this Commission, Indiana Bell commits to accelerate and increase its infrastructure investment, thereby accelerating the benefits of technology to its customer.”

Unfortunately, there is more fiber in your breakfast cereal than AT&T put in the communities over these last 25 years. And this is the exact same message now, 25 years later; to eliminate ‘outmoded’ regulation and increase investment and…

A Fiber Optic Wire Is Required Every 500 Feet as Well.

Finally, the big lie here is that all of these cell sites require a fiber optic wire attached to them. Thus, 5G wireless is a ‘bait-and-switch’. Boston, MA was told it was getting FiOS fiber to the home, not wireless.

Francis Shammo, former-Verizon EVP, told the investors a different story at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, September 22, 2016:

“But it’s going to be a fixed broadband wireless solution.

“And if you think about the cost benefit of that, today, if you think about FiOS and what it costs me to connect a premises to FiOS. I have to lay the fiber down the street, but then I also have to then connect the home, go into the home, make sure the wiring is right, put in install the boxes, install the routers.

“If you think about 5G, you put the fiber down the road, which is what we’re doing in Boston. Then all of the labor and the expense of drilling up your driveway connecting the OT to your house and all the labor involved with that, all that goes away, because now I can deliver a beam into your — into a window with a credit card size receptor on it that delivers it to a wireless router, and there’s really no labor involved and there’s no real hardware other than the router in the credit card. So the cost benefit of this is pretty substantial, at least, we believe it is.”

Since the number “5" follows the number “4”, there will, of course, be something called ‘5G’ — and we can’t wait for 6G, 7G, etc.

So kids, (or investigative reporters), if you take a trip and visit the FCC, stop in at Brendan Carr’s office and ask him:

  • Is your 5G plan really just a rehash of ALEC model legislation?
  • How did you end up presenting this ALEC bill in Indianapolis?
  • How, exactly, are rural areas served if the wireless service can’t get passed a few football fields without more fiber optic wires attached?
  • What commitments did you get from the carriers that if you change the laws that the companies will build anything?
  • Isn’t it a conflict-of-interest to work to help your previous clients vs the American public?
  • Finally, where is the investigation into all of the previous fiber optic deployments and all the money that was charged to local phone customers — even those in rural areas or those low income families?

Oh, and throw in — if the companies have to have a fiber optic wire within a few hundred feet of someone’s home or office, why aren’t they giving the people fiber optics instead of some wireless service that doesn’t really exist yet, except in tests or controlled deployments?



Bruce Kushnick

New Networks Institute,Executive Director, & Founding Member, IRREGULATORS; Telecom analyst for 40 years, and I have been playing the piano for 65 years.