5G: Roll Out or Roll Over?

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UPDATE While communities across the country are plotting and planning how to implement 5G, or thwart it, two New York towns have taken very different approaches in their relationship with the telecoms, reports RollCall.com. As previously reported by Inside Towers, Syracuse is striving to be at the forefront of the smart cities movement. 

In its zeal to welcome 5G, Syracuse has been welcoming and cooperative with the telecoms so far, although critics have said that Syracuse will gain speed and connectivity at the expense of future revenue and city autonomy. 

 When the FCC set limits of what cities could charge to install cell and fiber equipment, Syracuse had a per cell policy of $950 in place. After renegotiating, Verizon will end up paying $162,000 in annual fees and $300,000 in applications fees for their 600 installations, less than the $570,000 Syracuse could have earned prior to the new agreement.  

 Syracuse’s willingness to cooperate with Verizon means that 5G development is well underway in that part of New York. Rochester, on the other hand, is holding firm to its ability to set terms. Verizon is currently in a legal battle with Rochester, contending that the city’s $1,500 per utility pole is in unacceptable excess of the FCC’s $270 price limit.  Spokesman for the city, Justin Roj, stated that Rochester is protecting its infrastructure and its citizens by not bowing to Verizon’s demands. “Other communications providers are complying with the law while building out their networks and paying the necessary fees,” he said. “The city is confident in our position against this frivolous lawsuit.”

Those in favor of placing local concerns over FCC edicts include former NYC chief information officer, Samir Saini, who stated, “It empowers cities to protect public property, dramatically expand wireless coverage, guarantee safety and aesthetic protections for their streets, and bring in pole rental revenue. Meanwhile, telecommunications companies densify their networks, expand their footprint, and grow their revenue.”

The FCC maintains and actively promotes the edict that keeping the costs to the telecoms at a reasonable level will hasten the development of 5G networks. While the Rochester lawsuit is as yet unresolved, consultant Ken Schmidt, who has a background in mediating cell tower disputes, stated, “The burden is on the city to demonstrate conclusively that those fees are justified by actual cost.”

September 25, 2019            

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