Wireless Providers Push for 'Small Cell Tower' Legislation

Nov 22, 2017

The rise of video on phones is crowding cell networks.
Credit CAFNR / Flickr

Wireless phone companies are pushing legislation they say will enable the next generation of cellular technology. The proposal would standardize rules, letting AT&T and other carriers install “small cell" towers on streetlight poles. But Doug Brown, the chief utility engineer with Springfield’s City, Water, Light and Power, says there should be exceptions for bigger cities.

“You know, our customers own our power poles, our street lights, our infrastructure. And we want to be fairly compensated for the use of our infrastructure, our right-of-ways."

Brown says CWLP currently gets $3,000 a year for each power pole with a small cell. The legislation would slash that fee, capping it at $200 a year. AT&T says the small cells will improve connectivity, especially in areas where the terrain or buildings can interfere with the signal from bigger towers. The measure already passed the House and Senate. But Senate President John Cullerton put a hold on the bill, saying he hopes to address the concerns.