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How the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee Could Shape Cities’ Digital Future

Last week in Washington, DC, the thirty members of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee gathered at the Federal Communications Commission to develop and agree to debate new model state and local laws for broadband deployment. The group comprised one elected official and five total representatives of state or local governments — along with a wide range of members representing telecommunications companies, academic institutions known for their opposition to municipal broadband investment, and stakeholders representing the National Grange and LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute. Together, they represented the committee charged with writing state and local laws on broadband deployment

New Bill Threatens City Authority on Small Cell Infrastructure

The latest chapter in the seemingly never-ending American conflict between local and federal authority is taking shape — over wireless infrastructure and broadband deployment. The newest threat to local control comes in the form of S. 3157, the “Streamlining The Rapid Evolution And Modernization of Leading-edge Infrastructure Necessary to Enhance (STREAMLINE) Small Cell Deployment Act.” This bill, introduced by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), promises big handouts to the wireless industry in the name of 5G deployment, while cutting city finances and rights-of-way management. Wireless providers have argued for the past several years that local regulations and fees are a ma

Levin: Cities Know How to Get Broadband Done, Not a Dysfunctional Federal Government

Blair Levin had harsh words for the FCC and Congress yesterday in an address about the role of cities in broadband deployment in an address about “The Secret to Smart Policies About Smart Cities” at a Next Century Cities broadband event in Pittsburgh. “The federal government is dysfunctional and disrespected but local governments are responsive, proactive, effective and respected in building communities,” said Levin, who headed up the team that created the 2010 National Broadband Plan and is now a senior fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Project at the Brookings Institute. He pointed to research showing that 70% of Americans trust their local government, while less than 20% trust the feder

Oak Park, River Forest IL to comply with state rules on small wireless facilities

Officials in Oak Park and River Forest will grudgingly comply with a new state law regulating small wireless facilities, which could mean an increase in the amount of wireless stations seen throughout each village. Illinois Public Act 100-585, the small wireless facilities deployment act, specifies how local authorities may regulate the collection of small wireless facilities. Small wireless facilities are typically smaller installations placed atop existing utility and light poles, and can already be seen in some Illinois municipalities. Some state officials say the facilities are critical to meet the current technological needs of communities across the state. Under terms of the act, a uni

Charting a Course to 5G

Sacramento, Calif., expects to soon be the first city in the nation with commercially available 5G telecommunications networking. City officials see big promise in the emerging technology. “Smart city stuff, IoT, autonomous vehicles: We will use it for all of those things,” said CIO and IT Director Maria MacGunigal. Yet MacGunigal isn’t primarily focused on the whiz-bang municipal impact of 5G. “The use cases will change 100 times,” she predicted. “What we do know is that we will need the infrastructure, so we want to build it and build it well. The infrastructure is what needs to be strong.” Nationwide, IT leaders in state and local government are following a similar trajectory. They’re sto

Let’s Make A Deal – 5G and Model Agreements

To speed deployment of wireless broadband to the nation’s communities, the FCC created a Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) charged with drafting model codes to govern the relationship between wireless carriers and states and local jurisdictions. However, what may be a “model” for carriers looking to speed broadband deployment and maximize profits is not being viewed favorably by local jurisdictions seeking to protect land use from unsightly and overzealous deployment and to receive a fair share of the revenue generated from wireless carriers’ use of local infrastructure. 5G Deployments Will Benefit from Access to Public Infrastructure. Fifth generation wireless network technolog

U.S. Senators Introduce Small Cell Wireless Bill

The bill would pre-empt local government and not provide for grandfathering of current state law. A bill that would limit local authority over the use of public rights-of-way for small cell wireless facilities was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate. The bill (S. 3157), known as the Streamlining The Rapid Evolution And Modernization of Leading-edge Infrastructure Necessary to Enhance (STREAMLINE) Small Cell Deployment Act, is authored by Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Brian Schatz (D-HI). It is focused, much like the recent Federal Communications Commission rulemaking efforts, on limiting the actions local governments can take on small cell wireless facility siting in an effort to make deplo

Verizon drops plans for wireless antenna array in downtown Nevada City

A more than three-year battle between Verizon Wireless and Nevada City is over. For now. Last week, Verizon's attorneys sent a letter to Nevada City's city council, formally withdrawing its use permit application for a screened rooftop wireless facility at 109 North Pine Street. "It's a small victory," Nevada City Council member Reinette Senum said. But Verizon now wants to install "small cell facilities" on existing power or telephone poles in downtown Nevada City, a move that has Senum concerned. According to Senum, local jurisdictions have little control over these microwave radiation antennas called "small cells" on utility poles, street lamps, traffic lights and street signs. In October

By Gluing Fiber to the Ground, Startup Thinks It Can Slash Broadband Installation Costs for Local Go

Whenever a city wants to install high-speed Internet — be it for economic development, cost-savings for emergency responders or local schools — it must first answer a question: low or high? If a city puts its fiber cables underground, it has to close down traffic, pay the cost of digging equipment and endure the risk of unexpected obstacles like a hidden sheet of rock. If it decides to string up the fiber along utility poles, it has a lot of legal maneuvering, negotiations and paperwork ahead of it to secure permission — before it signs on to pay a leasing fee that never goes away. In Stillwater, Okla., and Fauquier County, Va., people are trying a third option. They are, for lack of a bette

Carriers Awkwardly Embrace San Jose's Small Cell Success

In Texas, a good politician is defined as someone who can keep many balls in the air at the same time, while protecting his own. If we're really going to bring 5G to US cities, we need some awfully talented politicians. Why? Good politicians can deal with telcos and help them get a win for their shareholders without screwing over a city's taxpayers. File that away as we remind you that telcos recently scoffed at an FCC Commissioner for pointing the way to a successful small cell agreement -- an agreement that just days earlier the telcos were celebrating and bragging about. In San Jose, city officials negotiated small cell deployment agreements with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint to allow those ea

FCC Rejects Challenges To Verizon, AT&T 5G Spectrum Deals

The Federal Communications Commission has shot down separate challenges from the Competitive Carriers Association to acquisitions of 5G-primed spectrum by AT&T and Verizon, saying the trade group lacks standing to oppose the deals. CCA, which represents regional and rural wireless providers, had sought to reverse the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau's approvals of AT&T Mobility LLC’s $2 billion acquisition of FiberTower Corp., as well as Verizon Communications Inc.’s $3.1 billion acquisition of millimeter wave spectrum licenses formerly held by Straight Path Communications Inc., saying the bureau erred in allowing the deals to go through. But the commission, in a pair of decisions

Portland, Maine Ready to Flip Switch on Smart Traffic Signals

City officials here will flip the switch next week on an innovative system designed to ease traffic flows through the most congested intersection in the Pine Tree State. They expect the Morrill’s Corner project to cut wait times along the important commuter roads feeding through the intersection by 20 to 30 percent. Bottlenecks there have frustrated drivers for years. It’s a problem every weekday, since the city’s core population of 67,000 swells to 200,000 as suburban workers drive to their jobs. The project is only one of several traffic-related initiatives the city has ambitions to complete in the next few years, as it attempts to keep the high quality of life that has been a magnet for c

Sens. Want To Limit Time For Cities' Small Cell Reviews

Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, introduced a bill Thursday aimed at speeding the approval of so-called small cells that are essential to deploying 5G, by giving local governments no more than 90 days to act on applications to install the “backpack-sized” units. Telecommunications companies contend old rules governing wireless infrastructure siting are too costly and time-consuming, having been designed with massive towers in mind rather than the hundreds of thousands of small cells that carriers want to install to roll out 5G across the country. “Most rules on the books governing siting were designed for traditional 200-foot macro towers, but next-generation 5G wire

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