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State small cell laws put cities on fast track

by Martha DeGrasse

Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Little Rock singled out by AT&T

AT&T has said that 5G networks will rely on dense networks of small cells, and the carrier has also said that it will launch mobile 5G in 12 U.S. markets this year. It isn't saying which markets those will be, but it has dropped a hint by publicly praising three U.S. cities that have paved the way for small cells. 


Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Little Rock, AK were singled out by AT&T for "the adoption and implementation of processes and cost structures that facilitate small cell deployment." Joan Marsh, AT&T's EVP for regulatory and state external affairs, said these three cities are all "leaning with us into the next generation of technologies."


Small cell deployments often require access to the public rights of way, so city governments will be very involved in the development of 5G wireless networks. Carriers often target city-owned assets for the installation of radios and antennas, and may need to trench city streets to lay fiber for fronthaul and/or backhaul.


In Indianapolis, AT&T says more than 80 of its small cells are on air thanks to a streamlined permitting process and a maximum attachment rate of just $50 per node. AT&T has named Indianapolis as one of its 5G Evolution test markets, and as a result the city known for fast cars is also getting blazing fast mobile data speeds of up to 800 Mbps.*


Minneapolis is also a 5G Evolution test market, and AT&T has plans to install about 115 small cell nodes there. The state of Minnesota passed a law in 2017 that established a 90-day time limit for cities to issue or deny small cell permits. It also set a statewide $150 per year small cell pole attachment rate, with an additional $25 per year maintenance fee.


Minnesota and Indiana are among a  handful of states that have adopted small cell legislation. Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Kansas, and Virgina have also passed laws to facilitate small cell deployments. 


Arkansas has not yet passed a state law regarding small cells, but Little Rock has set the maximum small cell permitting time at 60 days. AT&T says the city uses a simple two-page permitting form and will allow up to 25 small cells under one permit. Little Rock has capped permitting rates at $100 for five small cells and $50 for each additional small cell, with a recurring annual fee of $20, according to AT&T. The carrier plans to deploy more than 100 nodes in the city this year. 


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* AT&T said speeds of up to 800 Mbps were recorded on the Samsung Galaxy S8, which uses Qualcomm's fastest modem and can leverage all AT&T's 5G Evolution technologies. 






Small Cell Market Forecast

Profiles of 19 small cell vendors plus total addressable market forecasts and predictions of the numbers of actual nodes that have been and will be deployed. Explanations of fronthaul, backhaul, CPRI, eICIC, and mobile network architecture. Discussion of the different types of small cell architectures, including outdoor distributed antenna systems (DAS.). Report produced by iGR Research.


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