Photo: A small cell tower across the street from the Orange County Courthouse. The corresponding radio equipment is located in a portion of the adjacent garbage can. Ryan Gillespie, Orlando Sentinel

“…Orlando’s planning department has projected carriers will need about 20,000 nodes to bring about 60% coverage, with the most needed to bring strong coverage to dense downtown and touristy International Drive. At a City Council workshop this month, officials said they and the municipally-owned Orlando Utilities Commission were studying how to encourage carriers to attach their antennas and radio equipment to the same poles, preventing equipment clutter on Orange Avenue.

‘What we have beginning to happen is a lot of nodes occurring on Orange Avenue. If you were to line them all up, you’d be looking at a node every 90 feet,’ Chief Planner Doug Metzger said. ‘In my perfect world, I’d love to get two providers on every node.”

For that to happen, carriers would need to either agree to share new poles installed throughout the city or reach an agreement with OUC to install equipment on the utility’s tower. OUC has some small-cell agreements for antennas to be installed on its poles, though they currently don’t yet have 5G antennas, utility spokesman Tim Trudell said.

The study is underway, and Metzger said he hopes a plan is developed by early October.

Florida cities maintain limited leverage over carriers in Florida, as state legislators pre-empted municipalities from regulating wireless infrastructure in 2017 and further restricted it in 2019.

The 2017 legislation, sponsored in the House by state Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-St. Cloud, is being challenged in a lawsuit filed by the Florida League of Cities, along with Naples, Port Orange and Fort Walton Beach, which contend the law allows private businesses to take over city property, with a $150 per pole cap as a fee.

‘We felt the Legislature’s actions were pretty egregious in those two narrow areas,’ said Kraig Conn, general counsel for the League of Cities…

Elsewhere in Central Florida, Winter Park could also see early interest from 5G companies. The city has had talks with carriers, though its city commission hasn’t formally reviewed policy on 5G.

However, Winter Park shares aesthetic concerns, as it has spent millions in recent years burying its power lines, while state law now allows carriers to build poles in the public right of way…”

— Ryan Gillespie, Orlando Sentinel
Read entire article