Verizon tackles city over small cell fees - Mobile World Live

Verizon tackles city over small cell fees

14 AUG 2019

Verizon filed a lawsuit against a city in New York state over small cell permit fees, escalating an ongoing tussle between US operators and municipal governments across the country.

The operator argued regulations passed by the City of Rochester in February violate federal rules which ban local governments from charging excessively for permits to deploy wireless equipment in a public right-of-way.

Though the Federal Communications Commission recently set an annual fee limit of $270 per site, Rochester’s code calls for payments of between $1,000 and $1,500 for each small cell installation on a city-owned lamppost, along with recurring administrative fees.

Verizon argued such fees would slow operator progress on 5G, by magnifying the costs of network densification. “Over the next three to four years, an estimated 300,000 small wireless facilities will need to be deployed by Verizon Wireless and other providers…making such fees more likely to materially inhibit service when they exceed the actual and objectively reasonable costs incurred by the local government.”

However, Justin Roj, director of communications and special events for the City of Rochester, told Mobile World Live the fees are intended to protect the city’s infrastructure and are “comparable to what other cities require”.

He said other communications providers are complying with the laws as written, adding city officials are “confident in our position against this frivolous lawsuit”.

The case highlights an ongoing struggle between operators and local officials over mass small cell deployments. Though they represent a critical component in operators’ 5G plans, municipal officials claimed the government is going too far by attempting to accelerate deployments.

Earlier this year, Verizon attempted to rally public support for its cause, urging citizens to back next-generation deployments by writing to elected officials.

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Diana Goovaerts

Diana joins Mobile World Live as its new US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana comes to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and...

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