The FCC has taken a step toward sorting through complex small cell deployment issues by releasing two model small cell agreements agreed to by the San Jose City Council.

The announcement was made by Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who said that there is a balance between local control and the speed that is made possible by “streamlined and uniform practices” in agreements.

Model Small Cell Agreements
The agreements were negotiated by the City of San Jose and approved by the city council. “Through these agreements, carriers will benefit from streamlined access to thousands of city-owned poles for their small cell deployments,” Rosenworcel said in a press release, which included attachments describing the two models. “In turn, carriers will fund a decade-long effort to help close the digital divide in San Jose, where more than 95,000 residents still lack access to broadband Internet service at home.”

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The model agreements include the following:

MODEL 1

  • Document A: Master Non-Exclusive Installation and Property Use Agreement
  • Document B: Funding and Reimbursement Agreement
  • Document C: First Amendment to Master Non-Exclusive Installation and Property Use Agreement
  • Document D: Staff Memorandum re: Approval of Actions Related to an Amendment and a Funding and Reimbursement Agreement Related to the Permitting of Small Cells on City Owned Assets in the Public Right of Way

MODEL 2

  • Document E: First Amendment to Master Non-Exclusive Installation and Property Use Agreement
  • Document F: Funding and Reimbursement Agreement
  • Document G: Staff Memorandum re: Approval of Actions Related to an Amendment and a Funding and Reimbursement Agreement Related to the Permitting of Small
    Cells on City Owned Assets in the Public Right of Way

5G technology will largely use high frequencies, which will make smaller and far more numerous antennas (or cells) necessary. Placement of these cells is an ongoing challenge. There are three main constituencies, who often have differing views: the municipalities, the carriers, and private entities such as businesses and apartment buildings that can house the antennas.

It seems that a method is necessary to balance these often competing perspectives, which could potentially lead to chaos. While municipalities and owners of prospective sites have rights, it is not practical for cellular companies to negotiate countless agreements nationally. Model contracts that are fair to all parties can make the rollout of the new generation of wireless far smoother.

San Jose is an important city in the world of 5G. AT&T and Verizon this month both issued press releases on their plans for the city. Both involve 5G, small cells and smart cities. AT&T is more focused on 5G and Verizon on smart cities. In any case, small cells will be important to both carriers’ initiatives.

In March, the FCC adopted small cell approval rules that aimed to streamline the wireless infrastructure siting review process by reducing impediments to small cell deployments and expand access to 5G for more Americans.

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