Mesh/Pole attachment

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This document discusses rules and technical challenges around attaching telecommunications gear to city-owned poles.

New FCC rules

the FCC has implemented new rules in January that force local city/county/state governments to allow ISPs to install gear on utility and light poles and set maximum pricing and maximum aesthetic restrictions allowed. The aesthetic rule restrictions have already been overturned by the supreme court. It's being challenged in the ninth circuit court and is likely to be overturned but probably not until September.

The max price set is $270 per year per pole.

There is a lot of good info on this at Steve Blum's blog. A good starting point is the "pole attachment" tag.

The actual text of the new FCC rules is here.

Poles we CAN'T use

Utility poles

Utility poles are usually made out of wood and used to run electrical, phone and cable tv/internet lines.

It is unlikely we'll be allowed to mount to these.

The utility poles are owned either by PG&E or the Northern California Joint Pole Association, which is made up of electric, telephone, cable and other telecoms companies.

Utility poles are governed by CPUC rules. It's possible that PG&E or the NCJPA would allow us to mount on their poles, but they're only required to do so for CPUC-certified companies and that's as far they usually go. We can try contacting them but it's unlikely that we will get anywhere with these poles.

A CPUC-certified company is a telecommunications company that either has a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) from the CPUC, or is a mobile carrier with an FCC license and has filed a wireless identification registration (WIR) with the CPUC.

When you look up CPUC certification you might find this, which is a completely unrelated certification relating to Women/Minority/LGBT-owned businesses.

Traffic poles in Oakland

According to a human at the City of Oakland Department of Real Estate Services, they do not allow mounting on traffic poles for safety reasons.

TODO: Verify that this includes e.g. stop signs or if it's only traffic signals.

Poles we CAN use

Traffic poles in Berkeley

ToDo: Find out

Light poles in Oakland

It is possible to get permission to mount on light poles in Oakland. Traditionally this was only utilized by large ISPs like AT&T and negotiated with each ISP for hundreds of poles at once.

With the new FCC rules the fees will be the same for all, conform to the FCC maximum and be listed online. On May 7th 2019 a human from the City of Oakland Department of Real Estate Services told Marc Juul that changing over to support the new FCC rules had been delayed but would probably be done in two months. It may be that they are simply delaying and hoping that the new FCC rules will be overturned in September.

The approval and setting of fee used to be handled by the Department of Real Estate Services but with the new FCC rules the fee setting and some aspects were handed off to the IT department.

The process is:

  • Negotiate which poles to mount on, master agreement for mounting on poles in general and per-pole fees with IT Department - (should be fast)
  • Get letter of authorization from the landlord which is the Department of Real Estate Services - (should be fast)
  • Get planning commission approval - (sloooow. they have a huge backlog and just can't keep up with thing submitted for approval)
  • Get a building permit - (probably not very slow)
  • Get an encroachment permit - (no idea how slow)
  • Get electrical approval - (we may be able to skip this since we're not tying into any power. not sure. no idea of speed)

The good news is that the new FCC rules set a 90 day limit for the city to make a decision on permit applications for "small wireless facilities" which currently include mounting new equipment to a pole and this has been affirmed by federal courts. They are trying to reclassify attachment of new equipment to a pole as "colocation" which would shorten that deadline to 60 days. I have no idea what recourse we would have if this doesn't happen, other than to hire a lawyer well-versed in this (like Steve Blum of Tellus Venture Associates).

juul has been given contact info for two people at the IT department which will be our point of entry into this process.

All of these permits require fees. All of them are one-time and I don't think any of them depend on the number of poles, other than the yearly pole rental fee.

We can add or remove poles to the existing master agreement without going through the entirety of the first two steps again. Just need a quick approval for that. All the other steps remain the same.

The yearly fee per pole pre-FCC was around $1300 per year.

The human at the Department of Real Estate Services mentioned that fee reduction could be possible if there was some giveback to the city.

Vertically mounted solar panels

A study called The Signpost Platform for City-Scale Sensing collected data on how much power is received by vertically mounted solar panels on traffic. See figure 5 on page 7.