A legal battle brewing in upstate New York over the use of municipal utility poles could have nationwide repercussions as private telecom companies seeking to build fifth-generation wireless networks contend with city governments that say they aren’t being fairly compensated. A lawsuit filed by Verizon against the city of Rochester last month marks the latest in a string of cases pitting telecom giants against cities that want more autonomy over fees charged for the deployment of small cells on poles controlled by local governments. Unlike current, fourth-generation wireless technology, which uses existing cell towers and can send signals across long distances, implementation of the next stage, known as 5G, will require installation of new cells. They’re smaller than previous ones — sometimes the size of a backpack — but 5G requires that hundreds be deployed, in close proximity to each other. This means that cities that want faster connectivity must grapple with more frequent use of their utility poles and other infrastructure and more construction on roads where companies want to bury fiber optic cables. And companies who want to win the so-called “race to 5G” must navigate an uneven regulatory landscape in which municipalities have a range of requirements for… Read full this story
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