Wireless companies can save time, money while improving infrastructure

Oct. 8, 2013 – In today’s rapidly evolving telecommunications industry, increased demand is being put on our wireless infrastructure. The volume of mobile users listening to music, browsing pictures, and watching videos is outpacing capacity, and wireless telecommunications providers have been focused on the deployment of small cells to ease congestion. The benefits include reduced capital expenditures, increased revenue opportunities and expanded coverage. But working with municipalities to obtain proper permits for installation can be time consuming and costly.

To help streamline the process in New Jersey, our firm was instrumental in writing, developing, and pushing through New Jersey Senate Bill No. 2989, working in collaboration with the Wireless Infrastructure Association (PCIA) and New Jersey Wireless Association (NJWA). The legislation, adopted in 2012, exempts certain collocations of wireless equipment from site plan approval, making it easier for wireless companies to construct, modify and install their networks. In New Jersey, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have been using the outdoor small-cell solution to successfully expand their wireless reach to areas that receive weak mobile communications.

By effectively utilizing state legislation, which enables providers to install new microwave dishes to a cell site, we can facilitate the process. It allows telecommunications companies to bypass zoning and planning board approvals and go directly to the permitting process. The end result is quicker deployment so that devices keep working, costs are lower, and we can keep up with increasing demand.

Wireless technology is the transmission of a message via low-energy radio signals to the closest antenna site, which then connects with the local telephone network. Wireless companies normally have to pay a service charge to whichever company is controlling the land line. The installation of microwave dishes allows providers to avoid service fees. As a result, modifying the infrastructure can create a cheaper and quicker cell connection with savings passed along to the cell phone user. If the new installation is shorter, or has a smaller footprint than what existed, a variance is not required.

The legislation has been effective in meeting the challenges from the onslaught of telecommunications companies looking to grow in a market area. The outdoor small-cell solution does not require new tower infrastructure and can be deployed without any disruption of a community’s operations. The practice of positioning antenna equipment for two or more providers on a single tower, known as collocation, is another way to reduce the creation of new towers. Collocation has swept the industry for the acquisition of wireless communications sites.

Saving Time and Money

Through our implementation of the legislation, we can usually save a wireless provider four to six months as well as thousands of dollars spent on professionals presenting a plan to a local planning board. The legislation applies to any type of structure that has been previously approved for a modification or site alteration; exclusions include building new towers.

In numerous cases, our firm has successfully facilitated the approval process for wireless providers that need to expand coverage in a market area. By using our knowledge of Municipal Land Use Laws and working relationships with local municipalities, we have streamlined zoning and permit applications. For example, CW Solutions worked with MetroPCS (before the merger with T-Mobile) to create a microwave backhaul operation involving 130 sites throughout Essex, Hudson, Bergen and Middlesex Counties. Although the subsequent merger, which occurred last year with T-Mobile, put a halt to the nationwide project, we were able to apply the legislation to save the client time and money.

The goal for MetroPCS was to keep its costs down and pass along the savings to its customers. By utilizing the legislation, we were very successful in helping them obtain proper permits for installation in numerous individual localities. For example, through our efforts, MetroPCS was able to go directly to the permitting stage on sites located in Perth Amboy, Edison, Woodbridge, North Bergen and Jersey City. As more and more towns become aware of the legislation, it is going to get easier to expedite the process.

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