Like all major telecommunications providers, AT&T is racing to upgrade its connectivity network to the next generation of speed. But an AT&T regional director said its efforts in Cleveland have been moving too slowly.
(TNS) — Inaction by the administration of Mayor Frank Jackson has thwarted efforts by AT&T to invest millions of dollars in the city, the company’s regional president, Adam Grzybicki, complained in a letter Friday to Jackson.
The delays center on permits that AT&T has been waiting months to receive from the administration as part of efforts to make Cleveland the nation’s first city with a so-called 5G network, the next generation of wireless communication.
“As I mentioned in August, we look forward to continuing to invest in the people and city of Cleveland,” his letter states. “But, currently, most of our investment plans are on hold, due to a lack of urgency from your administration.”
The holdup, and potential loss of millions of dollars, comes as city business leaders, including some with ties to Jackson, are trying to position Cleveland as a technology center with blockchain.
A spokesperson for Jackson said the letter was not received until late in the afternoon and that the administration would have a response to AT&T next week, once it gets a chance to review it.
You can read the letter here.
The letter received Friday follows up on one Grzybicki sent Jackson to last August. (You can read that letter here.)
Cleveland.com contacted AT&T for additional comment.
“While we have enjoyed a long, positive relationship with the mayor and his staff, this backlog of city approvals is threatening investments that will bring more high-speed fiber and the infrastructure for 5G to Cleveland that will benefit virtually everything and everyone — from health care and education, to public safety and job growth,” AT&T Ohio Director of External Affairs Nikki Jaworski said in an email. “We hope to see some momentum soon.”
The nation’s large wireless carriers are racing to build 5G — or fifth generation — networks. The new technology promises data speeds 50 to 100 times faster than 4G LTE networks.
Industry experts have predicted that 5G could become a new cord-cutting option for almost 90 million U.S. households that now get broadband, phone and TV via cable or satellite, Bloomberg News reported.
In December, AT&T CEO John Donovan told an audience at the Blockland Solutions conference in Cleveland that development of 5G networks could be essential to developing the “Internet of Things,” a reference to the network of smart devices all connected. Developing 5G could provide the structure for it to run on, he said.
That discussion was moderated by KeyCorp CEO Beth Mooney, who also is a member of AT&T’s board of directors. Coincidentally, Mooney also has long been a Jackson supporter and conducted a conversation with the mayor in 2015 state-of-the-city presentation.
Developing the 5G network will require AT&T to erect “small cell” antennas to help deliver signals to customers. Grzybicki complained in an August letter that AT&T had been trying for more than a year to secure an agreement on the antennas without success and asked for a chance to meet with city representatives.
The August letter was copied to City Council President Kevin Kelley and to Joe Roman, the CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership.
Friday’s letter clearly was intended to get attention.
In addition to Kelley and Roman, it was copied to every other member of City Council, Roman, Law Director Barbara Langhenry and a host of business leaders. Among them is Bernie Moreno, the leader of a grassroots effort to make Cleveland a center for blockchain technology.
Kelley, in a telephone interview Friday, said he recalled the August letter and had been hoping that the administration would resolve the issues AT&T was raising. Permit issuance is a function of the administration and not an issue that City Council generally deals with directly.
“I’m a little bit out of the box on this right now,” Kelley said. “I intend to follow it up on Monday.”
In his Friday letter, Grzybicki expressed hope for resolution.
“Like you, we are committed to improving the quality of life in Cleveland by strengthening its neighborhoods and making it a desirable city …,” Grzybicki said. “Bringing AT&T Fiber to even more neighborhoods, and building the infrastructure for 5G, will certainly be a positive step in this direction.”
©2019 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.