Small Cell Discussion at Feb 27: House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee

I attended the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee meeting today – at least to hear the discussion on small cell policy and deployment by AT&T. The presentation is similar to what the Broadband Task Force heard earlier this month.

I think the questions asked by legislators are as informative as the presentation by Paul Weirtz from AT&T.


AT&T used small cell to get ready for Super bowl. Minneapolis was one of three places where AT&T deployed 5G evolution infrastructure.

  • Investment in Super Bowl $40 million.
  • Deployed more than 100 small cell sites – permits took less than 90 days.
  • Facts from the super bowl
  • Jan 27 – Feb 4 – 50 terabytes of data consumed on our network alone (15,000 hours of super bowl half time shown on loop)
  • Increased LTE capacity over 200 percent since start of football season

Add 16 distributed antenna systems throughout the TCs

  • This work helps paves the way for getting more 5G infrastructure  – 200 more cells in 2018, including Duluth and rural areas.
  • AT&T in builder of FirstNet – this includes Minnesota, which means 23 new towers in the State.


Question from Garofalo –
Is there a visible small cell tower in town?
Yes, we’ll send a picture

Question from Thissesn –
about FirstNet – how much is that federal contract?
$6 billion and we’ll get spectrum and pay.

Gross revenue in MN? OR MN is profitable?
Don’t have number – TC is a good market for AT&T

Your take on Net Neutrality?
We support FCC rescinding Net Neutrality. We support free and open Internet – we said now is the time for an internet consumer bill of rights.

Timeline on passing federal bills?
We just urge – the order has not gone into effect yet. I think there’s 60 days posted; then goes into law. There’s already a lawsuit (MN is part of that). Seems like the legislature doesn’t have voted to stop hold up of repeal of Net Neutrality.

We have not put a bill of rights into writing – just urging legislators to do that.
My AT&T services slows down at the end of each month. (From Thissen.)

Questions from Garofalo –
how far are we from 5G?
We outlined first three Cities that we get on 5G by end of the year. (TC is well positioned but not in that shortlist.)
We are getting the network ready for 5G.

What are the speeds for 5G?
We’re seeing 14 Gig speeds. We’re doing a national trial in Uptown (mmWave) – they are seeing Gigabit speeds from one building to the other.

Question from Metsa –
good to get faster connectivity through the phone. IN Mountain Iron – we are told to invest in repeaters and use “Mark the Spot App”. It used to be that we had 3-4 bars all of the time. Now I have less speed. At the cabin my speeds are faster. Why do we have speed fluctuations in populated areas. AT&T is a strong provider in the areas – maybe we just have a weird pocket.
We have the network folks in Minneapolis. Would love to talk about what the issues are.

Questions from Fabian –
With FirstnNet – I was at a conference. Trump talks about working with providers to make towers available.

We’re in the site selection process for those towers now. We’d be happy to put out equipment on state towers. Public Safety is most concerned with coverage. We are not in the tower business; we are in coverage.

Folks in Kittson County think their cell coverage is more important that broadband in their homes because they can do more with it.

How many Minnesotans work for AT&T?

Are these good paying jobs with benefits?
I’ve worked for AT&T for 19 years – so yes. AT&T store jobs are union jobs.

When AT&T makes a profit what do you do with it?
We invest in capital. We return to shareholders. Pay employees…

Question from Howe – On the list of 299 communities where investments have been made – many in my district – how can I tell what enhancements have been made.

We can get you that by distract.
Question from O’Neal – Liked working with you. I hear that 7-10 years out – what’s the investment from all providers

Accenture did a study of investment vs community ROI. We committed to $24 billion  – for every $1 billion you spend means 700,000 jobs.

Comment from Garofalo – nice to see a quick turnaround on policy change to action.

This entry was posted in Conferences, 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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