Hoping to pave the way for the newest advances in wireless technology, the House on Saturday passed a bill that would establish the framework for companies building 5G infrastructure on local government and Metropolitan Council property.
While the bill would make technical changes and add definitions to telecommunications statutes, it also would give counties, cities and towns the ability to charge a rental fee — up to $150 per pole each year – to issue permits to wireless companies to use current poles on public rights-of-way, among other fees for maintenance and associated electricity costs.
O’Neill said passing the bill was urgent because these companies want 5G in place before the Super Bowl comes to Minneapolis in February 2018.
“This is our opportunity to capture 5G market for all of our residents and all of our constituents,” O’Neill said. “This is an exciting time and an exciting bill.”
Concerns over the bill range from what the technology might look like on public property to saying it was the state interfering with local governments’ rights-of-way. Others, like Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls), said the bill is another “blackmail” effort by telecommunication corporations to use public space for technology that’s already being put in place.
“This is scary stuff. I’m frankly getting tired of these big companies coming into our cities, into our communities, into our state house and saying, and threatening us, that we’re going to be left behind; we’re going to be left out of the modern economy, unless we bow down to their demands,” Thissen said. “That’s exactly what has happened with this bill.”
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