By: Rich Hosford


A proposed wireless signal booster project that had drawn some tough questions was pulled last night.


Verizon Wireless representative Attorney Daniel Klasnick said his client would rather pull the project for seven small cell boosters planned for telephone poles around town than face a fee that was a condition being discussed by members of the Board of Selectmen.


As reported on BNEWS, the proposal from Verizon was brought up in a public hearing back in August. Klasnick of Duval, Klasnick & Thompson LLC, said the small cells are necessary to cover gaps in wireless coverage that develop as more people and businesses use the system. The devices are placed on telephone poles, street lamps and similar structures to boost the signal put out by traditional cell towers.

At the time members raised a number of concerns about the project. They asked if the small cells were really necessary, since Verizon’s coverage map did not show any gaps of coverage. They also asked about the chance that in the future Verizon would seek to put more small cells up in town or that other companies would seek to put others up.


The number of unanswered questions prompted a special meeting on in September to discuss the issue in further detail. During that meeting it was decided there were enough unanswered questions to require the committee. The committee was formed and tasked with examining the need for small cells, coming up with a policy for new applicants and studying possible aesthetic and health effects of the technology.


This week Selectman Jim Tigges, the board’s representative on the Small Cells Committee, said the group had come up with a new policy for small cell applications. The policy contains a number of provisions while filing an application, including setting installation fees, listing the town department that must receive a copy for review and setting up the timeline for approval.


The Verizon application, however, would not be subject to the policy because it was submitted before its adoption. However, Tigges and the committee did have a number of conditions for the project it recommended to the board. They included:


– No apparatus on double poles

– An agreement to annual recertification

– Equipment shall be located on top of the poles, colored similarly to the polse so as to blend in.

– Equipment shall not interfere with other equipment on the pole, nor obstruct or interfere with access to or operation of street lights or traffic controls devices on the pole.

– Poles must meet ADA standards.


Klasnick said some of those conditions could be met, at least in part. None of the proposed small cell boosters were planned for double poles and at least parts of the devices could be painted though some parts could not, he argued.


His biggest concern was the annual recertification which came with a fee, or what he called a “tax.” He said that was no acceptable to Verizon Wireless as it could set up a precedent for other communities and he questioned its legality under federal law.


“I’m not authorized by my client to move forward if that is part of this board’s approval,” he said. “We don’t feel it is consistent with state law as this is authorized by federal law.”


Klasnick also questioned the need for recertification.


“I don’t understand what needs to be recertified, we are going to install the antennae and they will work for their lifetime,” he said. “We can agree to remove them after. They are no different than a transformer or a cable box. It seems to us that wireless service is being treated differently than other services.”


Still, members of the board said they were leaning towards requiring the recertification and associated fee as a condition of approval. Before they could take that vote Klasnick intervened.


“My client respectfully requests to withdraw the petition rather than have a fee,” he said.


Board members agreed to the withdrawal and the matter was closed for the time being.



City Hall – Burlington, Massachusetts

Small Cell Information

The Town of Burlington has created a committee to study the requests for small cell equipment in Burlington and is working with our Town Counsel to create an application and policy that will attempt to best meet the needs of the community.

The town is aware that there are residents concerned about the health effects of wireless telecommunication facilities, however the Federal Communcations Act of 1996 , which is still in effect, only allows that local governments require applicable federal standards.


1 Wayside Road              1A  Wayside Road Additional Information
2 Old Concord Road     2A  Old Concord Road Additional Information
3 Cambridge St. Burlington Mall Rd.  3A Cambridge St. Burlington Mall Rd. Additional Information
4 Burlington Mall Rd.   4A   Burlington Mall Rd  Additional Information
5 15 South Ave                 5A  15 South Ave
6 Winn St.                            6A  Winn St.
7 Center St. at Olympian        7A Center St. at Olympian

Letters of Concern, Staff Comments, and Reports
1. 8.6.2018 Various Items Addressed by Small Cell Equipment Committee Member
2.  Letter Received Regarding Health Concerns
3. Additional Letter Regarding Health Concerns
4.  7.11.2018 Field Calculation data and exposure guidelines as supplied by Verizon at 9.17.2018 BOS meeting
5. 1999 Town Counsel Opinion re Health Concerns
6.  Planning Department Staff Comments
7.  8.6.2018 Letter from Verizon Attorney
8.  7.11.2018 Affidavit from Verizon Engineer
9 . 8.8.2018 Letter from Verizon Attorney with map
10. 9.11.2018 Letter from Verizon Attorney re: addressing the gap in service
11 . 9.12.2018 meeting packet

Posted 10/3/18:
The National League of Cities (NLC) recently released a new small cell wireless municipal action guide and model ordinance. The model ordinance is a suggested example of language that cities can use to meet their specific needs while managing the considerations of multiple stakeholders.
Recommendations of the NLC to communities:
— Gain a full understanding of the technology and important safety considerations;
— Articulate priorities for accommodating this technology;
— Create clear policies for permit review citing clear expectations;
—  Develop a template right-of-way access and city pole attachment agreement;
— Think through any items the to negotiate with industry in exchange for the use of the right-of-way; and
— Give careful consideration to fee structures.

Posted 10/4/18:

FCC Sides with Telecom Giants in Vote to cap 5G fees:


The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday approved a new rule that would limit what fees local authorities can charge wireless providers as the industry builds out its next-generation networks, known as 5G.

All four commissioners offered support for the rule, with Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel dissenting over only part of the proposal.

Companies like Verizon and AT&T are competing to bring new 5G service in the years to come, an endeavor that will require a massive deployment of hardware across the country. Unlike 4G signals, which can be transmitted for miles by large cell towers, the next generation’s waves can only travel short distances and will require small cell stations every few city blocks.

In order to install these refrigerator-size stations, wireless providers will need to negotiate access to utility poles and other public assets. The order approved on Wednesday would cap what municipalities can charge for rights of way and limit the amount of time that local authorities can take to review businesses proposal for deploying wireless infrastructure.

When the new rules take effect, local officials will have 60 to 90 days to review installation requests.

Republicans on the commission say that limiting what they see as exorbitant fees in major cities will free up capital for companies like Verizon and AT&T to invest in building out their networks in underserved rural areas. The commission estimated that the rule will save wireless providers $2 billion.

According to an FCC study, wireless companies pay about $500 in fees per pole every year.

“Cutting these costs changes the prospect for communities that will otherwise get left behind,” said Commissioner Brendan Carr, adding that eliminating the fees will speed up deployment and help “close the gap” with China, which is also racing to deploy 5G.

Wednesday’s rule is part of the government’s broad efforts to encourage 5G deployment. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have touted the importance of beating other countries to full deployment, and the Trump administration has even emphasized the issue as one of national security.

“Today, the FCC took the next step to further strengthen the United States’ lead in the race to 5G by adopting a framework for permitting and fees that will foster more widespread and robust infrastructure investment,” Joan Marsh, one of AT&T’s top public policy executives, said in a statement.

“We are excited about our continued expansion of our small cell facilities to bring advanced wireless technologies and services to communities across the country.”

But some critics think that the rush is leading to careless deregulation that will exacerbate the “digital divide” between those who have access to fast internet and wireless capabilities and those who don’t.

The proposal generated significant opposition from mayors and other local officials around the country, who accused the FCC of overriding their authority to regulate the rollout of the new technology.

“This is extraordinary federal overreach,” Rosenworcel said. “I do not believe the law permits Washington to run roughshod over state and local authority like this and I worry the litigation that follows will only slow our 5G future.”

Critics also say that there’s nothing in the order that incentivizes companies to reinvest the money they save on local fees to expand internet access and that they’re just as likely to spend the money on share buybacks or paying dividends to stockholders.

“All that it really accomplishes is transferring wealth from cities that use the funds to pay for cops and fire departments and teachers to big wireless carriers,” Blair Levin, an industry adviser and former Democratic FCC official, told The Hill in a phone interview. “And those wireless carriers get a lot of the benefit whether they do anything or not — they don’t have to deploy a single thing.”

The order is sure to face a court challenge from municipal groups, some of whom have already promised a lawsuit. Major cities like Los Angeles and Philadelphia had urged the FCC not to move forward with the proposal.

On the eve of Wednesday’s FCC meeting, a group of House Democrats also wrote FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (R) asking him to call off the vote, arguing that it risks “hamstringing cities and municipalities.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) sent a letter to Pai last week, urging him to revise the order. Garcetti said that the rules would retroactively upend agreements that his administration had already reached with Verizon and AT&T to begin deployment on Oct. 1.

“It will insert confusion into the market, and sow mistrust between my technology team and the carriers with whom we have already reached agreements,” he wrote.

“The Commission, while staying true to its commitment to promote 5G deployment, could avoid marketplace confusion by simply grandfathering in any proposal or formal agreement entered into prior to the effective date of the order.”

Updated at 4:02 p.m.