Mobile Carriers Fight Some Municipalities for Right of Way

Some cities are considering rules that will require carriers to improve coverage in underserved areas before granting right of way
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NEW YORK � Cellular carriers need to add outdoor small cells to handle the growth in demand for mobile data on busy streets, but some cities are requiring wireless carriers to pay more than utilities (power companies or wireline telecom providers) are required to pay to locate their gear on utility poles or to access to fiber along the same right of way, according torcrwireless.com

Cellular service can be especially important to people who do not have Wi-Fi or a landline at home. Therefore, some cities, including New York and Austin, Texas, are considering rules �that will require carriers to improve coverage in underserved neighborhoods as a condition of installing small cells in the downtown right of way,� according to the article.

For carriers, the most convenient arrangement is often a master lease agreement with a city, which gives the carriers access to many locations under the same terms. Without master leases, carriers often end up doing a series of smaller deals with commercial landlords.

Mobilitie, a company deploying small cells for Sprint, is classified as a utility in all 50 states, but has faced higher fees in some cities than power utilities pay. The company has been at odds with municipalities over permitting procedures, prompting at least one state government to interveneon the cities� behalf. Mobilitie recently filed a petition with the FCC calling on them to �adopt a declaratory ruling interpreting Section 253(c) of the Communications Act of 1934 to specify that cities cannot charge carriers more than they charge other providers who access the right of way.�

The big wireless carriers have not publicly called for federal intervention, instead focusing on the need for cities, carriers, state governments and federal regulators to work together in the interest of citizens.�

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