On Tuesday, Verizon Wireless attended the Fairmont Public Utilities Commission (PUC) assembly to explain the demand for small cell technology in Minnesota, Sentinel News reports. Gretchen Prescott, one of Verizon’s representatives who works with Minnesota communities, told Fairmont’s PUC, the proposal was created because Verizon, “sees a need for increasing coverage,” due to the growing technological shifts and mounting data usage in households and businesses. The one Verizon macro tower that brings coverage to the city has plans for renovation but cannot be updated fast enough to keep up with the extreme data and coverage demands, Prescott told the committee.
Verizon proposed to install five small cell antennas outside of residential areas in Fairmont, while replacing the already existing light poles at each site to compensate for the added weight of the antenna and radio. Electric Distribution Superintendent Marty Meixell had no problems with mounting the small cells, but he voiced concerns about Verizon contractors handling the pole replacement, the News reported. Prescott, in response, assured the commissioners in the meeting, the replacement poles would be safe and similar to the existing poles.
The administrators also raised concerns about the environmental impact. Prescott retorted to the committee that the small cells are “10 times safer than our big antennas” and that she hasn’t “seen any city bring up any issues about an environmental impact.” City Engineer and Public Works Director Troy Nemmers added to the conversation, stating that none of the other communities in the state with small cell antennas had any problems.
The company’s proposal lays out the master agreement and supplemental agreements that Verizon and the city of Fairmont would enter into for each small cell site. Prescott said Verizon is offering to pay $175 per pole per year, which she deems “pretty standard.” Prescott said communities similar to Fairmont have added six or seven small cells for better coverage and data. If the city wants to install additional small cells, new supplemental agreements for each site would be added to the master contract so the commissioners can review each new small cell before agreeing to it.
Sentinel News reported that the PUC will have less than a month to review the master agreement and will vote on whether to accept the proposal on April 24. If Verizon’s proposal is cleared, the installation of the five new small cells will probably start in 2019.
April 13, 2018