- The New Orleans City Council has passed new rules governing the installation of 5G small cell infrastructure, putting the city in a position to adopt the technology in the coming years and advance on its smart city goals.
- The regulations require that any company get a 10- or 15-year franchise agreement and a permit from the city before installing a small cell node or other 5G equipment on city property. The council also established a series of fees with AT&T, Verizon and Southern Light.
- In a Facebook video, New Orleans Chief Information Officer Kim LaGrue said the city was also approaching 5G with an eye towards closing the city’s digital divide. "Digital outreach programs, digital literacy programs, and opportunities to provide technology training to our residents is a fundamental part of the 5G era that we’re building in the culture of ‘smart cities’ in New Orleans," she said.
New Orleans has trailed other similarly-sized cities in adopting "smart city" technology, but is now looking to 5G as its ticket to jump ahead. Installation of small cells will not just allow customers to access the super-fast network in dense urban areas, but will allow for massive data transfers for technologies like connected infrastructure, smart grids and others. Councilman Jason Williams, who chairs the smart and sustainable cities committee, said adopting the latest network was necessary to "train a 21st century workforce to be ready for 21st century jobs."
AT&T had already offered its early 5G technology (which requires a mobile hotspot device) in New Orleans, but the new rules will support a full mobile network. Under the rules passed by the city council, AT&T will pay $25,000 a year to cover its 15-square-mile deployment area, with an additional $500 annual fee for each additional square mile with small cells (the fees are capped at $100,000 a year). Southern Light and Verizon must each pay $300 per year for each node they install on city-owned property.
According to the New Orleans Advocate, the council had been eyeing 5G rules for months, but waited until the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed rules that dictated what rules cities could impose on 5G companies, including capping permit fees. That ruling has been challenged in court by cities and counties who want to exercise more control, but New Orleans and other cities are still moving forward under that framework.