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Framework for new cell phone technology viewed as 'new era' of service

By Chris Steller

The “amazing” 5G cell phone technology offers data speeds as much as 100 times faster than current 4G service, said Rep. Marion O'Neill (R-Maple Lake), who sponsors HF739 that she says would help usher in a new era for business and communication with “regulatory certainty.”

It would establish a framework for telecommunications companies to place small wireless antennas on new or existing poles in the public right of way. It would also restrict local governments in areas such as permits, moratoriums and fees.

Rep. Marion O'Neill

The House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee approved the bill, as amended, Wednesday and sent it to the House Floor. The companion, SF561, sponsored by Rep. David Osmek (R-Mound), awaits action by the Senate Local Government Committee.

A delete-all amendment offered by O’Neill won the committee’s support. She said it represents the closest agreement among wireless companies, such as AT&T and Verizon, and organizations representing local governments and small utility companies.

Amanda Duerr, government relations representative at the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association, said her organization is neutral on the bill; Laura Ziegler, senior intergovernmental relations liaison at the League of Minnesota Cities, said her group is opposed.

Ziegler said local officials consider right-of-way regulation a core responsibility, and many of the league’s member cities don’t want new restrictions in state law. 

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