Telecom Carriers Fight Over Coveted Leasing Space on NYC Street Lamps

Street lamps in New York City – upwards of 250,000 of them – are valuable real estate for telecom companies, their carrier partners and their infrastructure, especially small cells. Several of these companies have franchise deals with the city, coveting prime space on the poles, and wait all year to bid for them. After back and forth communication with the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, these companies have grown frustrated and alarmed by the city’s lack of urgency, according to Crain’s New York Business.

With unlimited data plans and increased streaming, carriers need to expand wireless capacity. The companies are trying to bring better service to customers – and obtain more clients in the process – by adding the small cells near customers and increasing spectrum capacity. With only 4,000 poles reserved via bidding to date, there is ample opportunity for more leasing space. Typically poles reside at intersections and industry experts estimate that monthly charges for light-pole use might go as high as $400 during this next round.

Bidding or “reservation” periods are decided at the city’s discretion and not on a regular schedule, but historically there have been several each year for the past decade. Since July 2016, though, not one full reservation phase has been held, reported Crain’s New York Business. Last month, the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) announced a new phase would open within a few months, but a specific date has not yet been released.

According to Greg Weiner, a partner at Vertix Consulting of Oakton, VA, which advises carriers and telecom franchisees on small cell deployments in New York, “In the past, the city has been very accommodating. We’re anxious to see if that level of accommodation continues.”

There have been industry delays regarding the RFP needed for the bidding process and according to DoITT, there is no estimated release date at this time.

July 13, 2017      

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