Carriers are making substantial demands of cities and localities in their rush to deploy wireless technology on public infrastructure. While cities certainly want robust access to next generation networks, officials must navigate multiple interests to ensure that deployment is done in a way that serves the public interest by improving digital equity, promoting good jobs, and protecting public assets.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) released recommendations for the deployment of small cell wireless infrastructure at the 2019 conference of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), the nation’s largest gathering of local government telecommunications professionals.
CWA recommends cities take the following into consideration when planning for future networks:
Develop a template agreement for access to the right-of-way and use of publicly-owned assets (often referred to as a Master Lease or License Agreement). This approach ensures a level playing field for all carriers and allows for inclusion of contract terms that protect the public interest.
Ensure an open public input process, so community members can stay informed, participate and have a voice in network planning, construction, and deployment.
Protect public and worker safety by including transparency requirements for subcontractors working in the right-of-way.
Incorporate provisions that require companies to comply with existing laws.
Include measures that promote digital equity and digital inclusion.
Safeguard public resources, including provisions for retaining public ownership of assets and abandonment of equipment.
Ensure that cities are protected if federal law changes.