Telecoms, Localities in Annapolis Battle Over Small Cells

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Differing bills on small cells siting in the Maryland legislature, have lawmakers and the telecom industry at odds. The Senate Finance Committee heard testimony on both Tuesday, reported the Frederick News-Post.

Several carriers are supporting SB 937 sponsored by Sen. Katherine Klausmeier (D-Baltimore County), which would grant wireless providers the right — not subject to zoning review and approval — to install, operate, modify, maintain and replace utility poles and small wireless facilities in a right-of-way. 

This would streamline the deployment of small cells in the state, said Joseph Askew, vice president of state government affairs for Verizon in Maryland and Washington, D.C. The measure is similar to bills passed in 21 other states in the last two to three years.

However, the Maryland Municipal League supports SB 713 sponsored by Sen. Pamela Beidle (D-Anne Arundel), which would give local governments more control of where small wireless facilities are installed. The governments would also be able to charge up to $2,500 for a wireless provider to attach to a utility pole and have 180 days to approve or disapprove of a complete application, reported the Frederick News-Post.

The fees and timelines proposed in SB 713 are not reasonable, says Askew. The industry is looking to establish a law to access poles fairly, within a clear time frame and application review process, he said. It’s also looking for reasonable fees to deploy the new technology, Askew added.

If both bills fail, he cautioned, “there won’t be the amount of investment to ensure you have a robust wireless infrastructure in the state of Maryland.”  Comments? Email Us.

February 28, 2019

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