AT&T sent a letter accusing the city of holding up 5G deployment, but Mayor Frank Jackson’s administration said that the complaint came just one week after the company's permit applications came in.
(TNS) — Mayor Frank Jackson’s administration on Wednesday disputed AT&T’s contention that inaction by the city has thwarted the company’s efforts to invest millions into a 5G network in Cleveland.
The city granted nearly all the permits AT&T requested for new fiber lines, Jackson’s interim chief of staff, Sharon Dumas, wrote in a letter to the company that was obtained by cleveland.com.
Permit requests for “small cell” antennas needed to help deliver signals to customers were sent to the city just seven days before AT&T sent its Feb. 8 letter accusing the city of “a lack of urgency,” the letter states.
“I want to assure you that the Jackson administration has been working, and continues to work, to position the city for the future,” Dumas wrote. “If AT&T works cooperatively with the city to provide the information that the city requires, the city will be able to assist AT&T more efficiently and effectively to achieve both our goals.”
You can read Dumas’ letter here.
The Jackson administration had no comment Wednesday night on the city’s letter.
AT&T issued a brief statement.
"We appreciate the timely response from the mayor's office and are in the process of reviewing the letter,” Tina Noel, a spokeswoman for AT&T Ohio, said in the statement. "We look forward to further discussions shortly and to working with the city to bring new technologies that will benefit its citizens.”
The response is to a letter AT&T’s regional president, Adam Grzybicki, sent Feb. 8 to the mayor complaining that slow action by the city was hindering the company’s efforts to make Cleveland the first city in the nation with a 5G, or fifth-generation network, for wireless communication.
“We look forward to continuing to invest in the people and city of Cleveland,” Grzybicki wrote. “But currently, most of our investment plans are on hold, due to a lack of urgency from your administration.”
The dueling letters come at a time when city business leaders, including some with ties to Jackson, are trying to position Cleveland as a technology center with blockchain.
AT&T and the nation’s other large wireless carriers are racing to be the first to build a 5G network. The so-called fifth generation technology promises data speeds 50 to 100 times faster than 4G LTE networks.
Grzybicki noted in a letter to Jackson last August that AT&T invested more than $325 million over the last three years in technology in Cleveland.
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.
In his letter to Jackson on Friday, one that was copied to members of City Council and several key downtown Cleveland business leaders, Grzybicki wrote that fiber permits had yet to receive approval.
He also stated that he hoped Cleveland would soon take action on a small cell agreement, and could negotiate a “master agreement” with AT&T for use of utility poles owned by Cleveland Public Power, a city-owned utility.
Among the recipients of the letter were Joe Roman, the CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, and Bernie Moreno, the leader of a grassroots effort to make Cleveland a center for blockchain technology.
In her letter Wednesday, which was copied to the same community leaders, Dumas wrote that the city had approved all the fiber permits requested in 2018 and all but one requested for 2019.
Permit requests for small-cell antennas were received Feb. 1, one week before Grzybicki’s letter, and were under review, Dumas wrote.
Design drawings needed for a small-cell attachment agreement involving CPP poles were not received until Feb. 5 and were illegible, Dumas wrote. New drawings were not received until Tuesday.
There have been no discussions about a “master agreement” involving use of the poles, Dumas said in her letter. “AT&T introduced this concept by [changing] the title of the small cell attachment agreement [to insert] the word ‘master’.”
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