Small Cell wireless equipment collocation bill passes in Minnesota

The last I left the wireless equipment collocation bill there was agreement but a few details outstanding. It looks like some of the loose ends were tied and it’s been signed.

Here are some of the details outlined by AGL Media Group

The final bill sets fees for small cell attachments to municipal structures at $150 a year plus $25 for maintenance and a monthly fee for electricity use. …

“Fees paid to collocate on municipal poles were always the most contentious part,” O’Neill said. “The negotiations really got stuck on the rental fee for quite a few hours. The cities wanted an exorbitant amount into the thousands of dollars.”

The bill also designates small cell deployment as a permitted use in public rights-of-way, except in areas zoned for single-family residential use and in historic districts, where a conditional use or special permit may be required. It establishes a 90-day shot clock for application approvals or denials and also prohibits moratoria on small cell deployment.

Consolidated permit applications are allowed for the collocation of up to 15 small wireless facilities, although the municipality may allow more. To be aggregated, the small cells must use similar equipment, be placed on similar support structures and be located within a two-mile radius. If applications for more than 30 small wireless facilities are received in a seven-day period, a municipality may extend the 90-day review period by 30 days.

It’s legislation that’s getting around…

Minnesota is one of nine states that have passed small cell legislation so far, including Iowa, Kansas, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Arizona and Colorado. Four more bills are working their way through the process in California, Missouri, Illinois and North Carolina.

Small cell wireless equipment collocation agreement in MN

The Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance met late Sunday night The conference committee report for SF 1456 is available online. (I posted info on the broadband grant recommendation earlier.)

The wireless equipment collocation legislation has been a hard fought negotiation between wireless providers and local government (League of MN Cities). It looks like a lot of compromise. I don’t see a number listed for application fees – only restrictions on what the cost can (and cannot) cover. This must address concerns of local government that each location is different – and therefore costs are different. There are specific costs listed for recurring fee; I assume that provides some certainty to the providers, which makes it easier for them to plan.

I see provisions for buffering homes from unwanted equipment in the front yard. I see room for some advance warning of maintenance. I see parameters on response to applications and re-applications. I wish there was an archive of the meeting last night. I would have liked to see this presented – but midnight is too late for me for a meeting originally scheduled for noon. That’s tough work for all involved.

Here’s the info on small cell wireless equipment collocation

154.4ARTICLE 9

154.5TELECOMMUNICATIONS

154.6    Section 1. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.162, subdivision 2, is amended to read: 154.7    Subd. 2. Local government unit. “Local government unit” means a county, home rule 154.8charter or statutory city, or town, or the Metropolitan Council. 154.9EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 154.10    Sec. 2. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.162, subdivision 4, is amended to read: 154.11    Subd. 4. Telecommunications right-of-way user.(a) “Telecommunications right-of-way 154.12user” means a person owning or controlling a facility in the public right-of-way, or seeking 154.13to own or control a facility in the public right-of-way, that is used or is intended to be used 154.14for providing wireless service, or transporting telecommunications or other voice or data 154.15information. 154.16(b) A cable communication system defined and regulated under chapter 238, and 154.17telecommunications activities related to providing natural gas or electric energy services 154.18whether provided by, a public utility as defined in section 216B.02, a municipality, a 154.19municipal gas or power agency organized under chapter 453 or 453A, or a cooperative 154.20electric association organized under chapter 308A, are not telecommunications right-of-way 154.21users for the purposes of this section and section 237.163, except to the extent these entities 154.22are offering wireless services. 154.23EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 154.24    Sec. 3. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.162, subdivision 9, is amended to read: 154.25    Subd. 9. Management costs or rights-of-way management costs.(a) “Management 154.26costs” or “rights-of-way management costs” means the actual costs a local government unit 154.27incurs in managing its public rights-of-way, and includes such costs, if incurred, as those 154.28associated with registering applicants; issuing, processing, and verifying right-of-way or 154.29small wireless facility permit applications; inspecting job sites and restoration projects; 154.30maintaining, supporting, protecting, or moving user equipment during public right-of-way 155.1work; determining the adequacy of right-of-way restoration; restoring work inadequately 155.2performed after providing notice and the opportunity to correct the work; and revoking 155.3right-of-way or small wireless facility permits. 155.4(b) Management costs do not include: 155.5(1) payment by a telecommunications right-of-way user for the use of the public 155.6right-of-way,; 155.7(2) unreasonable fees of a third-party contractor used by a local government unit as part 155.8of managing its public rights-of-way, including but not limited to any third-party contractor 155.9fee tied to or based upon customer counts, access lines, revenue generated by the 155.10telecommunications right-of-way user, or revenue generated for a local government unit; 155.11or 155.12(3) the fees and cost of litigation relating to the interpretation of this section or section 155.13237.163 or any ordinance enacted under those sections, or the local unit of government’s 155.14fees and costs related to appeals taken pursuant to section 237.163, subdivision 5. 155.15EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 155.16    Sec. 4. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.162, is amended by adding a subdivision to 155.17read: 155.18    Subd. 10.Collocate.“Collocate” or “collocation” means to install, mount, maintain, 155.19modify, operate, or replace a small wireless facility on, under, within, or adjacent to an 155.20existing wireless support structure that is owned privately or by a local government unit. 155.21EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 155.22    Sec. 5. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.162, is amended by adding a subdivision to 155.23read: 155.24    Subd. 11.Small wireless facility.“Small wireless facility” means: 155.25(1) a wireless facility that meets both of the following qualifications: 155.26(i) each antenna is located inside an enclosure of no more than six cubic feet in volume 155.27or, in the case of an antenna that has exposed elements, the antenna and all its exposed 155.28elements could fit within an enclosure of no more than six cubic feet; and 155.29(ii) all other wireless equipment associated with the small wireless facility, excluding 155.30electric meters, concealment elements, telecommunications demarcation boxes, battery 155.31backup power systems, grounding equipment, power transfer switches, cutoff switches, 156.1cable, conduit, vertical cable runs for the connection of power and other services, and any 156.2equipment concealed from public view within or behind an existing structure or concealment, 156.3is in aggregate no more than 28 cubic feet in volume; or 156.4(2) a micro wireless facility. 156.5EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 156.6    Sec. 6. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.162, is amended by adding a subdivision to 156.7read: 156.8    Subd. 12.Utility pole.“Utility pole” means a pole that is used in whole or in part to 156.9facilitate telecommunications or electric service. 156.10EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 156.11    Sec. 7. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.162, is amended by adding a subdivision to 156.12read: 156.13    Subd. 13.Wireless facility.(a) “Wireless facility” means equipment at a fixed location 156.14that enables the provision of wireless services between user equipment and a wireless service 156.15network, including: 156.16(1) equipment associated with wireless service; 156.17(2) a radio transceiver, antenna, coaxial or fiber-optic cable, regular and backup power 156.18supplies, and comparable equipment, regardless of technological configuration; and 156.19(3) a small wireless facility. 156.20(b) “Wireless facility” does not include: 156.21(1) wireless support structures; 156.22(2) wireline backhaul facilities; or 156.23(3) coaxial or fiber-optic cables (i) between utility poles or wireless support structures, 156.24or (ii) that are not otherwise immediately adjacent to or directly associated with a specific 156.25antenna. 156.26EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 157.1    Sec. 8. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.162, is amended by adding a subdivision to 157.2read: 157.3    Subd. 14.Micro wireless facility.“Micro wireless facility” means a small wireless 157.4facility that is no larger than 24 inches long, 15 inches wide, and 12 inches high, and whose 157.5exterior antenna, if any, is no longer than 11 inches. 157.6EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 157.7    Sec. 9. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.162, is amended by adding a subdivision to 157.8read: 157.9    Subd. 15.Wireless service.“Wireless service” means any service using licensed or 157.10unlicensed wireless spectrum, including the use of Wi-Fi, whether at a fixed location or by 157.11means of a mobile device, that is provided using wireless facilities. Wireless service does 157.12not include services regulated under Title VI of the Communications Act of 1934, as 157.13amended, including a cable service under United States Code, title 47, section 522, clause 157.14(6). 157.15EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 157.16    Sec. 10. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.162, is amended by adding a subdivision 157.17to read: 157.18    Subd. 16.Wireless support structure.“Wireless support structure” means a new or 157.19existing structure in a public right-of-way designed to support or capable of supporting 157.20small wireless facilities, as reasonably determined by a local government unit. 157.21EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 157.22    Sec. 11. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.162, is amended by adding a subdivision 157.23to read: 157.24    Subd. 17.Wireline backhaul facility.“Wireline backhaul facility” means a facility 157.25used to transport communications data by wire from a wireless facility to a communications 157.26network. 157.27EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 157.28    Sec. 12. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.163, subdivision 2, is amended to read: 157.29    Subd. 2. Generally. (a) Subject to this section, a telecommunications right-of-way user 157.30authorized to do business under the laws of this state or by license of the Federal 158.1Communications Commission may construct, maintain, and operate small wireless facilities, 158.2conduit, cable, switches, and related appurtenances and facilities along, across, upon, above, 158.3and under any public right-of-way. 158.4(b) Subject to this section, a local government unit has the authority to manage its public 158.5rights-of-way and to recover its rights-of-way management costs. Except as provided in 158.6subdivisions 3a, 3b, and 3c, the authority defined in this section may be exercised at the 158.7option of the local government unit. The exercise of this authority and is not mandated under 158.8this section. A local government unit may, by ordinance: 158.9(1) require a telecommunications right-of-way user seeking to excavate or obstruct a 158.10public right-of-way for the purpose of providing telecommunications services to obtain a 158.11right-of-way permit to do so and to impose permit conditions consistent with the local 158.12government unit’s management of the right-of-way; 158.13(2) require a telecommunications right-of-way user using, occupying, or seeking to use 158.14or occupy a public right-of-way for the purpose of providing telecommunications services 158.15to register with the local government unit by providing the local government unit with the 158.16following information: 158.17(i) the applicant’s name, gopher state one-call registration number under section 216D.03, 158.18address, and telephone and facsimile numbers; 158.19(ii) the name, address, and telephone and facsimile numbers of the applicant’s local 158.20representative; 158.21(iii) proof of adequate insurance; and 158.22(iv) other information deemed reasonably necessary by the local government unit for 158.23the efficient administration of the public right-of-way; and 158.24(3) require telecommunications right-of-way users to submit to the local government 158.25unit plans for construction and major maintenance that provide reasonable notice to the 158.26local government unit of projects that the telecommunications right-of-way user expects to 158.27undertake that may require excavation and obstruction of public rights-of-way. 158.28(c) A local government unit may also require a telecommunications right-of-way user 158.29that is registered with the local government unit pursuant to paragraph (b), clause (2), to 158.30periodically update the information in its registration application. 158.31(d) Notwithstanding sections 394.34 and 462.355, or any other law, a local government 158.32unit must not establish a moratorium with respect to: 159.1(1) filing, receiving, or processing applications for right-of-way or small wireless facility 159.2permits; or 159.3(2) issuing or approving right-of-way or small wireless facility permits. 159.4(e) A telecommunications right-of-way user may place a new wireless support structure 159.5or collocate small wireless facilities on wireless support structures located within a public 159.6right-of-way, subject to the approval procedures under this section and, for collocation on 159.7wireless support structures owned by a local government unit, the reasonable terms, 159.8conditions, and rates set forth under this section. A local government unit may prohibit, 159.9regulate, or charge a fee to install wireless support structures or to collocate small wireless 159.10facilities only as provided in this section. 159.11(f) The placement of small wireless facilities and wireless support structures to 159.12accommodate small wireless facilities are a permitted use in a public right-of-way, except 159.13that a local government unit may require a person to obtain a special or conditional land 159.14use permit to install a new wireless support structure for the siting of a small wireless facility 159.15in a right-of-way in a district or area zoned for single-family residential use or within a 159.16historic district established by federal or state law or city ordinance as of the date of 159.17application for a small wireless facility permit. This paragraph does not apply to areas 159.18outside a public right-of-way that are zoned and used exclusively for single-family residential 159.19use. 159.20EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment, except 159.21that paragraph (d) is effective January 1, 2018, for a local government unit that has not 159.22enacted an ordinance regulating public rights-of-way as of May 18, 2017. 159.23    Sec. 13. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.163, is amended by adding a subdivision 159.24to read: 159.25    Subd. 3a.Small wireless facility permits; general.(a) A local government unit: 159.26(1) may require a telecommunications right-of-way user to obtain a permit or permits 159.27under this section to place a new wireless support structure or collocate a small wireless 159.28facility in a public right-of-way managed by the local government unit; 159.29(2) must not require an applicant for a small wireless facility permit to provide any 159.30information that: 159.31(i) has previously been provided to the local government unit by the applicant in an 159.32application for a small wireless permit, which specific reference shall be provided to the 159.33local government unit by the applicant; and 160.1(ii) is not reasonably necessary to review a permit application for compliance with 160.2generally applicable and reasonable health, safety, and welfare regulations, and to 160.3demonstrate compliance with applicable Federal Communications Commission regulations 160.4governing radio frequency exposure, or other information required by this section; 160.5(3) must ensure that any application for a small wireless facility permit is processed on 160.6a nondiscriminatory basis; and 160.7(4) must specify that the term of a small wireless facility permit is equal to the length 160.8of time that the small wireless facility is in use, unless the permit is revoked under this 160.9section. 160.10(b) An applicant may file a consolidated permit application to collocate up to 15 small 160.11wireless facilities, or a greater number if agreed to by a local government unit, provided 160.12that all the small wireless facilities in the application: 160.13(1) are located within a two-mile radius; 160.14(2) consist of substantially similar equipment; and 160.15(3) are to be placed on similar types of wireless support structures. 160.16In rendering a decision on a consolidated permit application, a local government unit may 160.17approve a permit for some small wireless facilities and deny a permit for others, but may 160.18not use denial of one or more permits as a basis to deny all the small wireless facilities in 160.19the application. 160.20(c) If a local government unit receives applications within a single seven-day period 160.21from one or more applicants seeking approval of permits for more than 30 small wireless 160.22facilities, the local government unit may extend the 90-day deadline imposed in subdivision 160.233c by an additional 30 days. If a local government unit elects to invoke this extension, it 160.24must inform in writing any applicant to whom the extension will be applied. 160.25(d) A local government unit is prohibited from requiring a person to pay a small wireless 160.26facility permit fee, obtain a small wireless facility permit, or enter into a small wireless 160.27facility collocation agreement solely in order to conduct any of the following activities: 160.28(1) routine maintenance of a small wireless facility; 160.29(2) replacement of a small wireless facility with a new facility that is substantially similar 160.30or smaller in size, weight, height, and wind or structural loading than the small wireless 160.31facility being replaced; or 161.1(3) installation, placement, maintenance, operation, or replacement of micro wireless 161.2facilities that are suspended on cables strung between existing utility poles in compliance 161.3with national safety codes. 161.4A local government unit may require advance notification of these activities if the work 161.5will obstruct a public right-of-way. 161.6(e) Nothing in this subdivision affects the need for an entity seeking to place a small 161.7wireless facility on a wireless support structure that is not owned by a local government 161.8unit to obtain from the owner of the wireless support structure any necessary authority to 161.9place the small wireless facility, nor shall any provision of this chapter be deemed to affect 161.10the rates, terms, and conditions for access to or placement of a small wireless facility or a 161.11wireless support structure not owned by a local government unit. This subdivision does not 161.12affect any existing agreement between a local government unit and an entity concerning 161.13the placement of small wireless facilities on local government unit-owned wireless support 161.14structures. 161.15(f) No later than six months after the effective date of this act or three months after 161.16receiving a small wireless facility permit application from a wireless service provider, a 161.17local government unit that has elected to set forth terms and conditions of collocation in a 161.18standard small wireless facility collocation agreement shall develop and make available an 161.19agreement that complies with the requirements of this section and section 237.162. A 161.20standard small wireless facility collocation agreement shall be substantially complete. 161.21Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the parties to a small wireless facility collocation 161.22agreement may incorporate additional terms and conditions mutually agreed upon into a 161.23small wireless facility collocation agreement. A small wireless facility collocation agreement 161.24between a local government unit and a wireless service provider is considered public data 161.25not on individuals and is accessible to the public under section 13.03. 161.26(g) An approval of a small wireless facility permit under this section authorizes the 161.27installation, placement, maintenance, or operation of a small wireless facility to provide 161.28wireless service and shall not be construed to confer authorization to (1) provide any service 161.29other than a wireless service, or (2) install, place, maintain, or operate a wireline backhaul 161.30facility in the right-of-way. 161.31(h) The terms and conditions of collocation under this subdivision: 161.32(1) may be set forth in a small wireless facility collocation agreement, if a local 161.33government unit elects to utilize such an agreement; 161.34(2) must be nondiscriminatory, competitively neutral, and commercially reasonable; and 162.1(3) must comply with this section and section 237.162. 162.2EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 162.3    Sec. 14. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.163, is amended by adding a subdivision 162.4to read: 162.5    Subd. 3b.Small wireless facility permits; placement.(a) A local government unit may 162.6not require the placement of small wireless facilities on any specific wireless support structure 162.7other than the wireless support structure proposed in the permit application. 162.8(b) A local government unit must not limit the placement of small wireless facilities, 162.9either by minimum separation distances between small wireless facilities or maximum 162.10height limitations, except that each wireless support structure installed in the right-of-way 162.11after the effective date of this act shall not exceed 50 feet above ground level, unless the 162.12local government unit agrees to a greater height, subject to local zoning regulations, and 162.13may be subject to separation requirements in relation to other wireless support structures. 162.14(c) Notwithstanding paragraph (b), a wireless support structure that replaces an existing 162.15wireless support structure that is higher than 50 feet above ground level may be placed at 162.16the height of the existing wireless support structure, unless the local government unit agrees 162.17to a greater height, subject to local zoning regulations. 162.18(d) Wireless facilities constructed in the right-of-way after the effective date of this act 162.19may not extend more than ten feet above an existing wireless support structure in place as 162.20of the effective date of this act. 162.21EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 162.22    Sec. 15. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.163, is amended by adding a subdivision 162.23to read: 162.24    Subd. 3c.Small wireless facility permits; approval.(a) Except as provided in 162.25subdivision 4, a local government unit shall issue a small wireless facility permit to a 162.26telecommunications right-of-way user seeking to install a new or replacement wireless 162.27support structure for a small wireless facility, or to collocate a small wireless facility on a 162.28wireless support structure in a public right-of-way. In processing and approving a small 162.29wireless facility permit, a local government unit may condition its approval on compliance 162.30with: 162.31(1) generally applicable and reasonable health, safety, and welfare regulations consistent 162.32with the local government unit’s public right-of-way management; 163.1(2) reasonable accommodations for decorative wireless support structures or signs; and 163.2(3) any reasonable restocking, replacement, or relocation requirements when a new 163.3wireless support structure is placed in a public right-of-way. 163.4(b) A local government unit has 90 days after the date a small wireless facility permit 163.5application is filed to issue or deny the permit, or the permit is automatically issued. To toll 163.6the 90-day clock, the local government unit must provide a written notice of incompleteness 163.7to the applicant within 30 days of receipt of the application, clearly and specifically 163.8delineating all missing documents or information. Information delineated in the notice is 163.9limited to documents or information publicly required as of the date of application and 163.10reasonably related to a local government unit’s determination whether the proposed equipment 163.11falls within the definition of a small wireless facility and whether the proposed deployment 163.12satisfies all health, safety, and welfare regulations applicable to the small wireless facility 163.13permit request. Upon an applicant’s submittal of additional documents or information in 163.14response to a notice of incompleteness, the local government unit has ten days to notify the 163.15applicant in writing of any information requested in the initial notice of incompleteness that 163.16is still missing. Second or subsequent notices of incompleteness may not specify documents 163.17or information that were not delineated in the original notice of incompleteness. Requests 163.18for information not requested in the initial notice of incompleteness do not toll the 90-day 163.19clock. Parties can mutually agree in writing to toll the 90-day clock at any time. Section 163.2015.99 does not apply to this paragraph or paragraph (c). 163.21For the purposes of this subdivision, “toll the 90-day clock” means to halt the progression 163.22of days that count towards the 90-day deadline. 163.23(c) Except as provided in subdivision 3a, paragraph (c), a small wireless facility permit 163.24and any associated encroachment or building permit required by a local government unit, 163.25are deemed approved if the local government unit fails to approve or deny the application 163.26within 90 days after the permit application has been filed, unless the applicant and the local 163.27government unit have mutually agreed in writing to extend the 90-day deadline. 163.28(d) Nothing in this subdivision precludes a local government unit from applying generally 163.29applicable and reasonable health, safety, and welfare regulations when evaluating and 163.30deciding to approve or deny a small wireless facility permit. 163.31EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 164.1    Sec. 16. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.163, subdivision 4, is amended to read: 164.2    Subd. 4. Permit denial or revocation. (a) A local government unit may deny any 164.3application for a right-of-way or small wireless facility permit if the telecommunications 164.4right-of-way user does not comply with a provision of this section. 164.5(b) A local government unit may deny an application for a right-of-way permit if the 164.6local government unit determines that the denial is necessary to protect the health, safety, 164.7and welfare or when necessary to protect the public right-of-way and its current use. 164.8(c) A local government unit may revoke a right-of-way or small wireless facility permit 164.9granted to a telecommunications right-of-way user, with or without fee refund, in the event 164.10of a substantial breach of the terms and conditions of statute, ordinance, rule, or regulation 164.11or any material condition of the permit. A substantial breach by a permittee includes, but 164.12is not limited to, the following: 164.13(1) a material violation of a provision of the right-of-way or small wireless facility 164.14permit; 164.15(2) an evasion or attempt to evade any material provision of the right-of-way or small 164.16wireless facility permit, or the perpetration or attempt to perpetrate any fraud or deceit upon 164.17the local government unit or its citizens; 164.18(3) a material misrepresentation of fact in the right-of-way or small wireless facility 164.19permit application; 164.20(4) a failure to complete work in a timely manner, unless a permit extension is obtained 164.21or unless the failure to complete work is due to reasons beyond the permittee’s control; and 164.22(5) a failure to correct, in a timely manner, work that does not conform to applicable 164.23standards, conditions, or codes, upon inspection and notification by the local government 164.24unit of the faulty condition. 164.25(d) Subject to this subdivision, a local government unit may not deny an application for 164.26a right-of-way or small wireless facility permit for failure to include a project in a plan 164.27submitted to the local government unit under subdivision 2, paragraph (b), clause (3), when 164.28the telecommunications right-of-way user has used commercially reasonable efforts to 164.29anticipate and plan for the project. 164.30(e) In no event may a local government unit unreasonably withhold approval of an 164.31application for a right-of-way or small wireless facility permit, or unreasonably revoke a 164.32permit. 165.1(f) Any denial or revocation of a right-of-way or small wireless facility permit must be 165.2made in writing and must document the basis for the denial. The local government unit must 165.3notify the telecommunications right-of-way user in writing within three business days of 165.4the decision to deny or revoke a permit. If a permit application is denied, the 165.5telecommunications right-of-way user may cure the deficiencies identified by the local 165.6government unit and resubmit its application. If the telecommunications right-of-way user 165.7resubmits the application within 30 days of receiving written notice of the denial, it may 165.8not be charged an additional filing or processing fee. The local government unit must approve 165.9or deny the revised application within 30 days after the revised application is submitted. 165.10EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 165.11    Sec. 17. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.163, subdivision 6, is amended to read: 165.12    Subd. 6. Fees. (a) A local government unit may recover its right-of-way management 165.13costs by imposing a fee for registration, a fee for each right-of-way or small wireless facility 165.14permit, or, when appropriate, a fee applicable to a particular telecommunications right-of-way 165.15user when that user causes the local government unit to incur costs as a result of actions or 165.16inactions of that user. A local government unit may not recover costs from a 165.17telecommunications right-of-way user costs or an owner of a cable communications system 165.18awarded a franchise under chapter 238 caused by another entity’s activity in the right-of-way. 165.19(b) Fees, or other right-of-way obligations, imposed by a local government unit on 165.20telecommunications right-of-way users under this section must be: 165.21(1) based on the actual costs incurred by the local government unit in managing the 165.22public right-of-way; 165.23(2) based on an allocation among all users of the public right-of-way, including the local 165.24government unit itself, which shall reflect the proportionate costs imposed on the local 165.25government unit by each of the various types of uses of the public rights-of-way; 165.26(3) imposed on a competitively neutral basis; and 165.27(4) imposed in a manner so that aboveground uses of public rights-of-way do not bear 165.28costs incurred by the local government unit to regulate underground uses of public 165.29rights-of-way. 165.30(c) The rights, duties, and obligations regarding the use of the public right-of-way 165.31imposed under this section must be applied to all users of the public right-of-way, including 165.32the local government unit while recognizing regulation must reflect the distinct engineering, 165.33construction, operation, maintenance and public and worker safety requirements, and 166.1standards applicable to various users of the public rights-of-way. For users subject to the 166.2franchising authority of a local government unit, to the extent those rights, duties, and 166.3obligations are addressed in the terms of an applicable franchise agreement, the terms of 166.4the franchise shall prevail over any conflicting provision in an ordinance. 166.5(d) A wireless service provider may collocate small wireless facilities on wireless support 166.6structures owned or controlled by a local government unit and located within the public 166.7roads or rights-of-way without being required to apply for or enter into any individual 166.8license, franchise, or other agreement with the local government unit or any other entity, 166.9other than a standard small wireless facility collocation agreement under subdivision 3a, 166.10paragraph (f), if the local unit of government elects to utilize such an agreement. 166.11(e) Any initial engineering survey and preparatory construction work associated with 166.12collocation must be paid by the cost causer in the form of a onetime, nonrecurring, 166.13commercially reasonable, nondiscriminatory, and competitively neutral charge to recover 166.14the costs associated with a proposed attachment. 166.15(f) Total application fees for a small wireless facility permit must comply with this 166.16subdivision with respect to costs related to the permit. 166.17(g) A local government unit may elect to charge each small wireless facility attached to 166.18a wireless support structure owned by the local government unit a fee, in addition to other 166.19fees or charges allowed under this subdivision, consisting of: 166.20(1) up to $150 per year for rent to occupy space on a wireless support structure; 166.21(2) up to $25 per year for maintenance associated with the space occupied on a wireless 166.22support structure; and 166.23(3) a monthly fee for electricity used to operate a small wireless facility, if not purchased 166.24directly from a utility, at the rate of: 166.25(i) $73 per radio node less than or equal to 100 max watts; 166.26(ii) $182 per radio node over 100 max watts; or 166.27(iii) the actual costs of electricity, if the actual costs exceed the amount in item (i) or 166.28(ii). 166.29EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 167.1    Sec. 18. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.163, subdivision 7, is amended to read: 167.2    Subd. 7. Additional right-of-way provisions. (a) In managing the public rights-of-way 167.3and in imposing fees under this section, no local government unit may: 167.4(1) unlawfully discriminate among telecommunications right-of-way users; 167.5(2) grant a preference to any telecommunications right-of-way user; 167.6(3) create or erect any unreasonable requirement for entry to the public rights-of-way 167.7by telecommunications right-of-way users; or 167.8(4) require a telecommunications right-of-way user to obtain a franchise or pay for the 167.9use of the right-of-way. 167.10(b) A telecommunications right-of-way user need not apply for or obtain right-of-way 167.11permits for facilities that are located in public rights-of-way on May 10, 1997, for which 167.12the user has obtained the required consent of the local government unit, or that are otherwise 167.13lawfully occupying the public right-of-way. However, the telecommunications right-of-way 167.14user may be required to register and to obtain a right-of-way permit for an excavation or 167.15obstruction of existing facilities within the public right-of-way after May 10, 1997. 167.16(c) Data and documents exchanged between a local government unit and a 167.17telecommunications right-of-way user are subject to the terms of chapter 13. A local 167.18government unit not complying with this paragraph is subject to the penalties set forth in 167.19section 13.08. 167.20(d) A local government unit may not collect a fee imposed under this section through 167.21the provision of in-kind services by a telecommunications right-of-way user, nor may a 167.22local government unit require the provision of in-kind services as a condition of consent to 167.23use the local government unit’s public right-of-way or to obtain a small wireless facility 167.24permit. 167.25(e) Except as provided in this chapter or required by federal law, a local government 167.26unit shall not adopt or enforce any regulation on the placement or operation of 167.27communications facilities in the right-of-way where the entity is already authorized to 167.28operate in the right-of-way, and shall not regulate or impose or collect fees on 167.29communications services except to the extent specifically provided for in the existing 167.30authorization, and unless expressly required by state or federal statute. 168.1    Sec. 19. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.163, is amended by adding a subdivision 168.2to read: 168.3    Subd. 9.Authorized contractors.(a) Nothing in this section precludes a 168.4telecommunications right-of-way user from authorizing another entity or individual to act 168.5on its behalf to install, construct, maintain, or repair a facility or facilities owned or controlled 168.6by the telecommunications right-of-way user. 168.7(b) A local government unit is prohibited from imposing fees or requirements on an 168.8authorized entity or individual for actions on behalf of a telecommunications right-of-way 168.9user that are in addition to or different from the fees and requirements it is authorized to 168.10impose on the telecommunications right-of-way user under this section. 168.11EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment. 168.12    Sec. 20. Minnesota Statutes 2016, section 237.163, is amended by adding a subdivision 168.13to read: 168.14    Subd. 10.Exemptions.(a) Notwithstanding any other provision in this chapter, this 168.15section does not apply to a wireless support structure owned, operated, maintained, or served 168.16by a municipal electric utility. 168.17(b) Subdivisions 3a, 3b, 3c, and subdivision 6, paragraphs (d) through (g), and subdivision 168.187, paragraph (e), do not apply to the collocation or regulation of small wireless facilities 168.19issued a permit by a local government unit before the effective date of this act under an 168.20ordinance enacted before May 18, 2017, that regulates the collocation of small wireless 168.21facilities. 168.22EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment.

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Duluth Tribune support statewide solutions to local small cell equipment collocation

The legislature is discussing a number of broadband-related topics. HF739/SF561 looks at creating a statewide policy to allow wireless companies to put their small cell equipment in public spaces. Right now a provider must work with the local government when they want to collocate equipment and the local government and charges a fee. The providers would like to streamline the process. Minnesota is not the only state looking at the issue – several states are. The last I heard (at a House Committee meeting), the League of Minnesota Cities and providers were trying to find a solution to meet all needs.

The Duluth News Tribune has posted an editorial on the issue…

“The deployment of small cells is one way providers can meet the demands on the network and also prepare for the next generation of wireless technologies called 5G,” Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Ross wrote in February in a letter urging lawmakers to find agreement on new measures. “This legislation will help enhance the wireless networks that Minnesota businesses rely upon to grow their companies and attract new investment.”

“These are the future,” AT&T Minnesota President Paul Weirtz said of small cells in an interview last week with the News Tribune editorial board. “The argument is if we can get some parameters as to how to deploy this over the 854 communities in Minnesota, just some standards around that, it’s going to get those antennas employed sooner. And that’s going to help bring that 5G wireless coverage quicker to Minnesota.”

The parameters the Legislature needs to determine — and, encouragingly, it’s working with providers, the League of Minnesota Cities and others to do so — include how much cities receive in rent, or rates, for small cells on traffic signals and in public right-of-ways. That varies widely right now. In cities in Ohio, it’s $200 per year, for example. In Indiana, cities charge $50 a year, according to Weirtz.

But in Duluth, he said, the reported rate runs $6,000 annually.

Clearly, Internet providers right now aren’t getting the consistent and fair rates they deserve and for which they can plan and with which they can do their work.

“We’re not seeing these rates anywhere else in the country,” Weirtz said of Duluth’s. “The legislation we’re hoping to do would put some common sense around a statewide rate structure. We don’t know what that number is going to be, but, you know, we’re hoping it’s south of $6,000.”

How much do you pay per bit and byte for your broadband? New comparison tool looks at speed and usage

Grocery stores put “price per ounce/serving” labels on product shelves. It has changed how I shop. Do I always buy the cheapest? No. Not all cookies are the same. But am I better informed? Yes. The National Broadband Plan promised similar tools with their Broadband Speed and Performance Digital Labels but those were based on performance – not cost.

The Minnesota Broadband Coalition has been working on a comparison of broadband pricing based on speed (bit) and data usage (byte). The Coalition is hoping that this information can help people — both consumers and policymakers –make more informed choices.

What does this mean?

There are some extreme differences – especially with satellite. You can see that the satellite service is more expensive for both bandwidth (speed) and data usage. The satellite price for data usage, at $5 or $6 per GB (gigabyte) compares unfavorably to the dimes and nickels charged by landline providers. For all providers except satellite, the lower bandwidth services have the highest price per Mbps (megabit per second).  In other words, the more you use, the less you pay per unit. There are two providers have no data cap for their Gigabit service.

Sources now put monthly average household data use at 190 GB (gigabyte) and that number is constantly growing. For rural residents that use data for school, business, health care or other data-heavy activities, it is clear that satellite is an expensive or very limiting broadband option.  It is, however, available everywhere, for those who can afford it.

The Coalition has created a broadband cost analysis spreadsheet that you can use to help calculate the unit cost of your broadband.

Mini-Lesson: Reminder on bits (speed) versus bytes (data usage)

  • Mbps is a measure of speed – megabits per second.) Speed provides the capacity to interact online. The FCC has a guide to help track speed requirements by online activity. For example, streaming an HD video requires 4 Mbps connection (download). To figure out your household’s speed requirement, you’ll have to consider all the users of broadband – every laptop, smartphone, ipad and the Internet of things for each member of your household or office.  Think about it – your family is probably using more than one device at the same time.
  • GB is a measure of how much data you’re using – gigabytes. For example, an HD movie may be 3-5 GB.  It’s like a cup that gets filled. Depending on your provider, you may pay more if you overfill your cup, your connection maybe slowed down if your cup gets filled or your provider may not have data caps (aka data allowances) so you can interact online (download or upload) without limitations. Many people have experience with usage on mobile contracts – but cellular providers aren’t the only ones that track and charge by usage.

Need more? I wrote a longer piece on bits/bytes and average household use in December.

Satellite – 25/3 access – with prohibitive costs, interference and no scalability

Everyone is looking for a cheaper, easier, better way to bring broadband to rural Minnesota. 5G isn’t it. Industry experts have confirmed that 5G isn’t a solution for rural areas and a speaker at a recent US House Energy and Commerce Committee confirmed it.

I’ve been hearing a lot about satellite lately so I thought I’d declare today satellite Monday and post what I’ve learned – starting with this basic 101 post, then a post on scheduled satellite upgrades and finally a guest post from a satellite user.

How does satellite work? I found a good, brief video ….

As they video says – satellite is a better choice than dialup – but there are some issues: costs especially given data allowances, latency, interference and speeds.

Let’s start with cost. It’s difficult to get pricing. Most providers will only show their current deals and often that requires a two-year contract. I was able to get pricing from Reviews.com:

HughesNet:

  • Monthly Price: $49.99 – $129.99
    Price is based on data allowance and download speed
  • Additional fees:
    • Early Termination Fee: Up to $400
    • Equipment Lease Fee: $14.99/month
    • Standard Installation Fee: $199.99 with Equipment Purchase
    • One-Time Setup Fee: $99.00 with Equipment Lease

Exede

  • Monthly Price: $49.99 – $129.99
    Price is based on data allowance
  • Additional fees:
  • Early Termination Fee: $15/remaining month of contract
  • Equipment Lease Fee: $9.99/month
  • Installation Fee: $0, $49, or $99 depending on your region

There are overage fees for surpassing data or you need to essentially turn off broadband until the end of the month.

I think the video does a nice job if describing the latency. The FCC recognizes improvements in satellite latency, as well as the limitations…

While the physics that limit signal speed cannot be altered, technical improvements, such as protocol acceleration and information caching, reduce the number of  times communication must occur between  the earth-based systems and the satellite thus minimizing the effects of latency.  Regarding these techniques, the FCC state: ViaSat and other satellite industry operators have lowered overall latency by making improvements to other elements of their architecture, such as by dispensing with the need to  request communication channel assignments, adopting advances in consumer satellite terminal equipment, incorporating protocol acceleration technology, and developing new error correction technology to provide resiliency to rain fade. Despite these many improvements, latency for this new generation [of] satellite‐delivered broadband remains high.

Interference is an issue based on “terrestrial blockage”…

Since geostationary satellites orbit the earth over the equator, subscribers at the equator point their  satellite dishes nearly straight up to communicate with the satellite. As a subscriber’s distance from the  equator increases, the elevation of the dish relative to the horizon decreases. Therefore, the likelihood of an object obscuring the direct view of a satellite also increases as the subscriber’s distance  from the equator increases, as shown in Figure 4‐2.  Thus, terrestrial blockage is a more significant issue  in the northern states than in the southern states.

And weather interference

Weather can also affect the reliability of satellite communications.  The frequencies used by satellite  systems are susceptible to weather degradation. Transmission errors can  be caused by heavy rain and  the accumulation of ice or snow on dishes.  Weather interference occurs more severely in northern  areas of the United States where there are lower dish elevations, since the signals must travel a greater  distance through the atmosphere before reaching the satellite.

To mitigate weather effects, satellite providers have implemented adaptive power control and more robust modulation techniques; however, weather interference problems persist.

And then with speeds – the problem today is the upload speed limitation – 3 Mbps. The bigger problem is that these speeds aren’t scalable.

Wired vs wireless home connections – 20 percent use wireless

Telecompetitor recently ran an article on home broadband access and wireless…

Although the majority of households still access the Internet via fixed connections (cable, telco, fiber, etc.), nearly 4 in 10 said they usually use mobile for home Internet access, according to new research from ReportLinker.

ReportLinker points to Census Bureau data as further evidence of broadband cord cutting. According to the Dept. of Commerce agency’s report, the number of U.S. households that rely solely on mobile devices and wireless network connectivity for Internet access doubled to 20 percent between 2013 and 2015.

The shift is particularly strong among young adults. Thirty-nine percent of Americans ReportLinker surveyed said they “usually use” mobile devices to connect to the Internet at home. That rose to 55 percent among Millennials and 60 percent of respondents aged 18-24. But an important and interesting observation regarding these findings – how many of those millennials are actually connected via a home fixed broadband connection using Wi-Fi on that mobile device, and don’t even make or understand the distinction?

Their last line gets to an essential point. The world of “wireless” is confusing. When we talk about wireless are we talking about cellular, fixed wireless, wifi. If you asked my kids how they connected to the internet they would say wireless – despite the fact that at home and at school they are actually on wifi that connects to a wireline connection. It’s all the same to them – unless or until a password gets changed. Maybe they’ll know the difference when they are paying the bill – and going on a limb here I think most millennials and a good chunk of 18-24 year-olds are still not paying the bill.

BUT I think that gets at a larger view – it’s not an either/or solution. Most folks want the speed, reliability and limitless use of a wired solution. Most folks want the mobility of a wired (cellular) connection. The following are reasons that customers went one choice over another – most of the reasons come down to bad experience with the choice they didn’t make…

Those who rely on mobile broadband offered various reasons why they don’t have a home broadband connection:

  • 27 percent said they could do everything they want with a smartphone
  • 15 percent said it’s cheaper to have just one connection
  • 15 percent said wireless network access is faster than a home broadband connection
  • 8 percent said home broadband connections aren’t reliable

On the flip side:

  • 22 percent said they use fixed broadband at home because it came as part of a package deal

  • 21 percent said cable broadband is much faster

  • 17 percent said their home broadband data limit is much higher than their mobile data plan limit

  • 5 percent said that not everyone in their household has a good mobile data plan

Industry view of MN small cell legislation

The St Cloud Times recently ran an editorial from Barry Umansky, Ball State University Digital Policy Institute…

The question on the table is how to expedite the process of deploying the infrastructure needed to power 5G, the most advanced wireless broadband network technology to come to market in the history of mobile networking. Engineers are reporting that 5G will deliver data and video at speeds once unimaginable, making the technology a realistic and affordable economic development tool for localities as much as it will be for businesses and citizens. But how fast citizens of any state can realize the benefits of 5G will depend on which state can most quickly and effectively clear the regulatory underbrush slowing down deployment of the network equipment needed to make 5G a reality. Minnesota’s small cell legislation (House File 739 and Senate File 561) is intended to do just that. This legislation should be applauded and supported.

In many localities, installing a communications antenna smaller than a pizza box typically requires approval from local zoning authorities, town councils and other public agencies — and under rules that tend to differ from city to city and town to town. And because permission for small cells is usually negotiated separately with each service provider, there’s a chance that one service provider gets a green light while another runs into roadblocks — meaning that the latter’s customers simply lose out.

Umansky recently presented at the Minnesota Broadband Networks Conference hosted by Minnesota Cable Communications Association, MN Telecom Alliance, AT&T, Comcast and others. (The counter of his view comes from the League of Minnesota Cities and Cable industry.)

I posted notes on the conversation in a Senate Committee meeting. Clearly the wireless provider and League of Minnesota Cities were trying to come to a compromise that would work for all sides. That is where the committee meeting left it more or less.

A tricky part of this is that 5G is a great solution for urban areas, downtown areas but not for rural areas – in part because it requires so much equipment and in part because of the distance limitations for the signal. And the local governments are reticent to relinquish control over the public right of way. Another tricky factor is that this topic is also being discussed at a national level.