AT&T Goes to Court Over Small Cells in Pittsburgh


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AT&T sued the city of Pittsburgh this week for allegedly failing to process the company’s permit applications and asking for extreme fees to build small cells. The suit was brought to federal court on Tuesday, notes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. AT&T said in the suit the city asked for an annual fee of $850 per small cell to be built by the telecom. The telecom asserts the FCC set a “reasonable annual fee” at $270 for such structures.

The city’s fee exceeds the Commission’s fee by “nearly 215 percent, in violation of federal law,” the lawsuit reads. Officials refused to reduce the amount before time ran out for the city to act on the applications, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

AT&T claims in the suit it wouldn’t pay the allegedly excessive fee and that’s why the city didn’t process the applications. The telecom asserts the city made an unreasonable delay and effectively prohibited the company from building.

AT&T asked the court to mandate Pittsburgh to issue the permits, and order the city to stop its “excessive, unreasonable and illegal” fees. It also asked the court to award AT&T money to pay its court costs.

“The city’s lengthy permitting process and excessive fees are inconsistent with federal rules and are barriers for these projects,” said Jim Kimberly, director of AT&T corporate communications. “We remain willing to work with the city, but we had to take this step to move these projects forward.”

A city spokesman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the city does not comment on litigation.

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