UPDATE AT&T has been swept into the debate over speeding small cell deployment in localities’ public rights-of-way. The carrier doesn’t consider its small cell agreements with San Jose to be a model for other cities.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel suggested last week that both Verizon and AT&T’s agreements with San Jose could be a nationwide model. Verizon backed off that suggestion and AT&T has too.
AT&T calls the agreements, which it says are not yet complete, “intricate, interdependent on each other, and unique to San Jose’s circumstances,” in a letter to the agency. After two years of negotiations, AT&T reached a deal with San Jose that allows the carrier to deploy 2,000 small cells at rates and on timelines “substantially better” than previous city deals, the carrier says. However the San Jose rates will run up to $2,500 per site.
AT&T proposed cost-based recurring fees to place small cells on city structures at less than $50, it tells the Commission. Giving mid-sized and small communities “a fair shot at 5G,” as described by Commissioner Brendan Carr, “that shot will occur only if cities charge rates for access to rights-of-way and ROW infrastructure that are cost-based and closely related to their management,” says AT&T. Local approval processes also need to be “reasonable, timely, and nondiscriminatory, “ says the carrier, which is why the agency’s ongoing review of small cell siting issues is “essential.”