Mayors Speak Out on Small Cell Siting Problems

Vital statistic: Mobilitie pays $1,350/ per site per year plus $500 a year for any additional carrier

Leaders from several cities urged the FCC to avoid a one-size-fits-all mandate for local governments when it comes to siting small cells. Mayors and municipal leaders as well as wireless association executives from Texas, Georgia, Massachusetts and Minnesota met with representatives of the FCC’s Wireless Bureau to discuss ways to ease broadband deployment.

They discussed the challenges cities face in working to improve wireless coverage for residents, while preserving their rights-of-way, safety and city planning priorities, according to an account of the meeting filed by the National League of Cities. Inside Towers reported the FCC invited comments on a petition for a declaratory ruling by Mobilitie on the topic (WT Docket 16-421). 

The representatives shared challenges like “the proliferation of excess or abandoned pole infrastructure in the rights-of-way, challenges in balancing repeated requests to site wireless infrastructure in densely populated cities, while neighboring rural towns lack service, and the difficulty of acquiring adequate staff support for unpredictable influxes of siting applications,” according to the NLC. Additionally, they told Commission staff that varying state laws already impact local siting authority, which would complicate any federal efforts to further regulate this process at the local level.

However they also shared something Georgia is doing that may work elsewhere — a master right-of-way agreement between Georgia cities, the Georgia Municipal Association and Mobilitie that incentivizes co-location of wireless sites on existing infrastructure and preserves the local aesthetic character of Georgia’s historic neighborhoods. It requires co-location of communications equipment on existing poles unless Mobilitie provides proof co-location is not possible and gives the city discretion over the appearance of new poles.

Under the master agreement, Mobilitie agrees to pay an annual license fee to the city of $500 per site per year for pole attachments to existing poles. For new poles, Mobilitie will pay $1,350 per site per year with a 3 percent annual escalator; plus $500 a year for any other carrier that locates on the new Mobilitie pole.

February 14, 2017


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