To speed the installation of 5G in Florida, the Legislature in 2017 ordered cities and counties to open their rights of way, utility poles and traffic signals to wireless carriers who want to install 5G antennas and gear on them. The Legislature also capped how much rent carriers would have to pay the localities for the cell sites.
“A pretty big swipe at city and county control,” says Kraig Conn, general counsel for the Florida League of Cities. “It was a very heavy-handed approach. The Legislature left very little discretion.”
Local governments were getting up to $2,000 per site per month for a carrier to put an antenna on a city-owned utility pole. The legislation capped the fee for 5G at $150 annually. “A tremendous subsidy of the industry,” Conn says.
Two years later, 5G hasn’t come to Florida in a significant way. As of mid- March, few major metro governments report any significant numbers of 5G permit applications. The work that is being done consists of laying fiber to support the installation of 5G “small cells” and antennas.
One issue for the cities will be the large number of small cell sites required for 5G to work. Cell towers may be a mile apart; 5G nodes need to be closer.