I met with a new internet service provider (ISP) that had recently contacted the city of Minnetrista about providing services here and learned a lot about how the city could remove obstacles preventing new service providers from entering the Minnetrista market.
Did you know that in order for a new service provider to mount an antennae on top of one of the city’s water towers it costs $40,000? That may not be a lot of money for Verizon or T-Mobile but for new providers entering the market it can be prohibitive.
In addition to leasing the space on the water tower there are engineering fees and application fees for each repeater and small cell tower location, which could be on an existing telephone pole or a new pole, provided by the ISP or possibly the city.
Assuming the city would need more than just existing telephone poles to accommodate the bandwidth required to reach all residents, the question of who builds out the infrastructure for the grid needs to be answered. Do we let companies put up their own or does the city plan out the grid and lease access to providers?
If the goal is to create a robust, competitive marketplace for high speed internet then the decisions we make must focus on encouraging competition and limiting barriers to the Minnetrista market. Some of the ways we can do that include:
- Waive the city’s solicitation fees for new ISPs coming to the area so they can sign up new customers
- Simplify the permitting process
- Allow one application to cover multiple locations if technology is identical instead of an application for each repeater/ small cell tower location
- Provide ease of access to the city’s right-of-way (ROW)
- Waive engineering fees unless the city incurs a cost
- Set infrastructure leasing costs for providers to reflect the actual costs incurred by the city to provide and manage that access.
I noticed our current mayor added the following to her reelection campaign “Roadmap” on her website yesterday: “Support a feasibility study of internet connectivity for all of Minnetrista.” Internet connectivity is not the problem, Mayor Whalen. Everyone has connectivity. The problem is it is slow, unreliable, customer service is horrible and there is no competition. The mayor doesn’t get it.
We need an ordinance dealing with these small cell wireless issues so that providers see Minnetrista as a viable market opportunity and the city doesn’t see them as just another revenue stream.
Stay tuned for an announcement of a Zoom meeting with some broadband industry professionals from our area.