The lack of small cell co-location and coordination among telecom providers has made the Miami-Dade area unsightly, according to one Commissioner. During Wednesday’s County meeting, Miami-Dade Commissioner Eileen Higgins characterized small cell installations in the market as “an absolute mess.”
Companies like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are erecting new small infrastructure such as utility poles, boxes, and cables to accommodate 5G technology.
As a result, concrete poles are going up every 300 feet, sometimes in awkward spaces, reports the Miami Herald. Black splice cases are left sitting on the ground or strapped to trees with plastic yellow caution tape. Stray wires poke out into walkways. Cables dangle from overhead lines.
“The crews tell me it’s not electrified but how are we supposed to know? The boxes aren’t closed or locked,” Higgins said. “These torn-up sidewalks are deathtraps; people can trip and fall.”
One reason cited for the rapid installation effort, Higgins said, is the goal of having the networks ready in time for Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on February 2, of this year, according to the Miami Herald.
In contrast, Miami Beach has managed the 5G small cell implementation process much better than the county by planning for it two years in advance, Higgins explained. Each pole has to be approved by the city’s historic preservation and design review boards.
“Miami Beach came up with a beautiful design standard,” she said. “Even though nobody is happy with poles every 300 feet, at least they are not hideous.”
Higgins and other commissioners asked the public works department and the county attorney to study whether Miami-Dade can implement design and permitting standards that supersede state utility regulations. Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava suggested the county wait to close out permits until electrical work is finished at each site.
AT&T did not issue a response to a Miami Herald query about construction, but has said previously it’s working as efficiently as possible with local governments to complete the network upgrade. Patience during installation will pay off for consumers because 5G will “usher in a Fourth Industrial Revolution,” according to Verizon EVP Ronan Dunne.