Many states are in the process of adopting legislation that would enable wireless providers to install “small cell” antennas on public property and utility poles despite opposition from local governments. In California, the small cell bill is SB 649.
As drafted, Senate Bill 649 would give wireless providers a significant advantage over local government in negotiating the placement of small cells in the public right of way and on public property. Cities that have an interest in “smart city” technologies, such as programmable street and traffic lights, should be particularly concerned.
In the Senate, the wireless industry was forced to take amendments to keep the bill moving, although the amendments address only a few of the concerns expressed by local governments. SB 649’s supporters managed to avoid tougher amendments by making verbal agreements to amend the bill, then claiming to have addressed the opposition’s concerns hours — and sometimes minutes — before a vote is taken.