5G Update – Cities Not Happy With Model

CITIES ‘DISAPPOINTED’ IN SENATE 5G BILL— Despite negotiations extending more than half a year, the National League of Cities still doesn’t support the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act, S. 3157. The bill, which would set up a shot clock for states and localities to approve or deny requests to install small-cell wireless equipment, was unveiled Thursday by Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz , top Democrat on that panel’s tech and telecom subcommittee. “We are disappointed that the Commerce Committee did not fully address our concerns about local preemption, and imposing a new federal one-size-fits-all mandate for small cell deployments won’t work for all cities,” said Tom Martin, a spokesman for the league. The National League of Cities had objected to the original draft proposal circulated last October, arguing its provisions would be unfair to municipalities.

— Lawmakers say the legislation is crucial for speeding the deployment of 5G networks by wireless companies, which say they need federal help to maneuver local siting challenges. Trying to strike the right balance with municipal representatives has been “probably the hardest part” of negotiating the bill text, Thune said last week, believing he and Schatz had ultimately laid all concerns to rest. Thune told John a hearing on the topic is likely in July and that Congress will be looking to the FCC for technical advice on the legislation. We’ll be tracking.

AT&T JOINS SAN JOSE FRAY — AT&T got drawn into the debate over how best to overcome local challenges to getting small cells up and running. The company fired off a letter to the FCC on Friday saying it “respectfully disagrees” with Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel’s suggestion that deals reached with San Jose, Calif., on 5G equipment installation could be model agreements for other cities. AT&T says the agreements are “intricate, interdependent on each other, and unique to San Jose’s circumstances,” echoing a blog post from Verizon that also pushed back on the notion that the deals could be replicated.

— The agreements with San Jose involve contributions to a digital inclusion fund in exchange for access to city infrastructure for small-cell deployments. The fees cities charge is a key issue before the FCC as the agency tackles barriers to wireless infrastructure deployment. AT&T said the San Jose agreements show “why commission action is needed to prevent exorbitant fees and delays from impeding small cell deployment in cities and towns across America.”

— But the companies struck a different note when San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo announced the deals in mid-June. AT&T’s press release at the time said, “This type of public-private partnership is an example of a long-term, model lease agreement that will deliver digital advancements for the City and its citizens.” Verizon’s Lauren Love-Wright said in a statement at the time the company was delighted to work with the city “to make San Jose a model for the digitally connected city of the future.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

This is ony the opening round to a much longer battle for local control.

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