MN Senate: Small wireless facilities collocation authorization discussion

Today I attended the Senate Committee meeting where they discussion small cell equipment collocation authorization. I’ll include my notes below. If you want the details, the video probably catches more than I did in my notes.

Spoiler alert: they voted to move this onto the Jobs Committee – but it wasn’t nor do I think it will be a slam dunk. They will continue the discussion there – although the Committee really asked all side to work on the issue before the next hearing and it seemed like the implication was that they should with a united approach if they wanted action.

The bill is an attempt to streamline deployment of small cell equipment throughout Minnesota to prepare for 5G wireless. Wireless providers (AT&T was there) are proponents. Cable providers do not support it. Local governments do not support the bill asis because they are the keepers of public property and would like more control over what is going to happen on it. They have concerns with size of equipment, safety of equipment and that one-size solution doesn’t fit all cities.

The Committee wondered if this bill was necessary – because wireless companies are already working with cities to get this done. A bill that created a state-level solution or at least standards would make it easier for the wireless companies.

All sides were happy to continue to work toward a solution – although not universally optimistic given the timeline. And all seemed to feel that if they come up with a solution that makes everyone happy that Minnesota might be the first in the nation to do it.

There was some discussion about moving this to Jobs Committee because jobs and broadband came up and that is the committee where other broadband and job discussions are happening.

I think that will be helpful as a few legislators seemed to think that 5G might be a solution for rural broadband. But I have heard clearly that while 5G will be a great solution for heavily populated areas (being tested in Uptown Mpls now) and downtown areas or a campus that it is not a solution for rural areas.

S.F. 561-Osmek: Small wireless facilities collocation authorization. (Handouts)

Removed A1 amendment – adopted

Emerging technology bill. 5G is replacing 4G.

There is no peace on the valley on this bill. I was hoping to get more. 5G requires more equipment in more places.

Unforeseen circumstances from the League of MN Cities has slowed up down.

This could be a solution for rural areas?

Beth Cooley –

Wireless subscribersin MN? 5.8 million and growing. We need to upgrade the infrastructure to meet their needs.

5G will create jobs and increase GDP.

We looked at St Paul and 2700 jobs will be created by 5G.

Capital tends to flow to the aras of legislative certainty.

Paul Weirtz –

We are testing 5G.

We are testing a rural solution in an AT&T lab.

5G standards are starting to coalesce. AT&T mobile traffic has increased 250,000 percent in the last 10 years.

My job is to get AT&T to invest in MN. Telecom is the most capital intensive industry. We want to make sure. Small cell placement

The cities have places roadblocks like $7500

We’ve had conversations with St Paul about small cell placement. Their lawyer lives in NY and won’t talk to us. Duluth has the same representative.

We’re seeing the monetization of small cell equipment placement because the residents want it.

Sen Osmek –

Fee structures are on in this bill. We don’t think this should be free – but it needs to be reasonable. We mentioned a third party contractor. I have concern about third party contractors. I don’t want what value they bring to the process.

Andy Emerson(?) from AT&T

I have been working with the League of MN Cities to find peace in the valley. You have a break down of the changes that have been made to the bill. We’ve had a good process in place to work with the cities – here are some issues and solutions we’ve discussed:

  • We don’t really need this. Why do we need to change this? Well we need certainty, each city has such a difference process and cost.
  • This bill impacts our ability to manage rights-of-way. We only want to amend the process. One still needs to apply.
  • Definition of wireless support structure was too broad. We changed that at the League’s request.
  • There were concerns about equipment obstructing safety – such as obstructing a stop sign. 7.21 – addresses it. To improve health, safety and welfare.
  • This creates liability and indemnity. The permit would have terms and conditions.
  • Concerns that We want it to be 90 days
  • Cable was worried about discrimination But the rule is set up for anyone who has the same size equipment. We added unlicenced spectrum to the specs to help cable providers.

Questions from Simonson – what’s the nest stop? Local government

What if this went to Jobs Committee? That would be OK. You should talk to Miller (from Jobs) – we’ve talked about broadband and jobs today and that seems like it needs to be discussed where broadband and jobs are being discussed.


John Dukich from MHTA

We have a letter from MHTA that supports the bill. The world is becoming increasingly wireless. Mobile traffic will increase 8 times between 2015 and 2015.

Laura Ziegler – MN League of Cities

We have met with the Wireless folks. We are committed to continuing the conversation. We need to find a way to allow government to have a voice.

We have several concerns:

MN has an opportunity to create a balanced approach.

There’s nothing in current law that prohibits this.

Cities do support 5G but we want to be able to it in balanced way

We want to maintain the cities function of managing local rights of way.

Statewide uniformity takes away that function.

Rights of way are a public asset – city spend taxpayer dollars to make sure they are managed well.

Our zooming ability would be stripped with this bill. It looks like a local government could deny a permit but it really isn’t here.

Regualted providers are usually monopolies – wireless providers are not regulated so it seems

We have heard that 5G requires 9 times more wireless antennas that 4G. That adds up.

We have an understanding about costs – we are concerned about cost burdens for the cities. We need to recover costs of planning review and we sometimes need a third party to supporting planning reivews.


Question from Dibble

What do you mean zoning authority of cities would be stripped?


Shelly Hanson – City Engineers (from Bloomington)

Small cell throughout MN are important. The one-size fits all approach isn’t quite there yet. What we have here doesn’t work for all cities.

We need to work on the definition of wireless support structure. The rule says post – but what kidn of post? Terms used now are very broadband.

We are concerned about definition of small cell equipment.

The concealment equipment seems to be unlimited. Where will they be? And what?

Each location has several dimensions to the permitting – above ground, below wireless. That takes time – even for a big city like Bloomington. For a smaller city that would be more difficult. We want to have time to do this in a safe manner.


Examples of problems:

Stop signs – after an accident cities give data to lawyers. We’re concerned about the impact of equipment on that data.

We are concerned about sight lines.

If a pole falls and misses a car but the small cell equipment hits it – then what?

Fiber runs can be blocks long.

Cities have to supply power, which means addition non-city staff on the equipment. That’s a safety concern.

Multiple permits are submitted at a time and that’s difficult. Often the permits don’t include all of the necessary data.

AT&T said we were asking for fees of $7000-8000 but we aren’t.

Question – what do you have yet to work on?

I am going to be working on this immediately after the session.

Question from Simonson

Do you feel like you’ll get to a solution?

As am emerging technology – these agreement get easier and they become more common. We hven’t yet seen a balanced approach. We’re no in agreement yet – but we’re working on it. We are working in good faith. Our time is very short – I’m concerned we don’t have enough time though.

Simonson – this is very complicated – not unlike the broadband was a few years ago.

What’s the haste? We have private industry that’s eager?

This is not the finished the product – money is already being spent. It’s not my intention to ram this through but money is being spent. Both sides need to give – we need to do more.

Question from Senjem (co-author)

Do we really need a bill here? Maybe the issue could be solved at a local level.

League of MN Cities doesn’t think so. Reacting to technology, we have already given tools to our members as they negotiate with providers.

Providing framework would be helpful because it creates structure by which the local governments could work. Structure may help both parties.

The cities don’t think we need this. Cities have been implementing this. And it’s working. Cities working through the league are getting more consistent.

Question from Dibble

The cities have at least 15 issues – none extreme – this bill in its basic form doesn’t seem to address those concerns. We risk getting ourselves into hot water if the public starts to see things going up in a way that they don’t like.

I had a conversion with AT&T in my office but I didn’t know the level of complication for local government. What is the point and purpose of this bill? Cities are willing and prepared to work with providers.


I don’t think we’re overriding the cities’ ability – it provides a guideline to move forth 5G. From a technology perspective I’d like to move forward.

Amanda Dewar – gov relations for MMUA

We share many concerns with League of MN Cities .We have been talking to AT&T for months. We appreciate that they have addressed some of our concerns. We are committed to continuing conversation.

Maximum heights and separations give us concern. Ancillary equipment the size of refrigerator – is too large and too heavy. Structural integrity is concerning.

We want local control to ensure than safety is a priority. Some of our members have already  worked on wireless equipment projects. The existing process has worked.

Also high voltage and radiating equipment is concerning.

Tony Mendoza – MN Cable Association

I oppose SF 561.

Cable shares a goal of nondiscriminatory access to rights of way. Cable companies pay franchise fees for local access. This bill takes away the same gate for wireless.

Same is true for broadband.

Telecom, cable and wireless have been working together on many issues but this was one that was wireless only.

Jay Littlejohn –

I have worked with the cities. I have experienced the need for it. This just gives the wireless the same access to rights of way as telecom and cable. We just want guidelines.

Cities will still have rights to issue permits. None of that changes. These are small facilities – they just don’t want hundreds of processes. It’s a 2-3 year process to get a permit now.

Senator Marty –

Are cable part of the discussion?

28 cubic feet on a pole is not unobtrusive. The concept of the bill is understandable. But it doesn’t seem like a comfortable solution now.

If we don’t get this done in time – I might want to hold off.

Littlejohn – 28 cubic feel would be the occasional transformer – not the small cell equipment.

Sen Goggin –

Moving unto local government. In my district (Red Wing) we just did major overhaul of the downtown to make it beautiful. My concern with the equipment is that those poles aren’t designed to take on that weight. I agree with Ms Hanson’s concern with electricity.

My unserved areas are not getting addresses – so I’d like to smooth the path to 5G.

Can we get this on to local government?

Cities need to charge reasonable amounts. St Paul needs to get a St Paul lawyer.

Sen Marty –

This seems like a good agreement. Can we let this go to the next committee? We just need to get folks talking in good faith. If we don’t find a solution – I hope Sen Osmek will take this off the table is agreements aren’t made.

Sen Dibble –

I’m excited for 5G but clearly the cities say they don’t need this. Maybe we need to focus on master licensing. The local authority is reasonably concern with local assets.

It makes sense to allow third party support. This is complicated business.

Sen Senjem –

We’ve had good conversation. Everyone is excited about 5G. I think we can make this work

Sen  Osmek –

It has been interesting.

We are working with cable with language in the bill.

Ultimate local control is the person paying the bill for the smartphone. We need to give them what we want.

This entry was posted in Community Networks, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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