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Tag Archives: Verizon Wireless

Judge Slams ZBA Denial of Tower

A superior court judge has overruled the Midland Park, N.J., Zoning Board of Adjustment’s denial of a monopole proposed by T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless to be sited in the parking lot of a shopping center.

The ZBA claimed that the site would exacerbate the shopping center’s parking shortage and would abut a residential zone, “within feet of a single family home.” Additionally, the board claimed that the applicants failed to establish the unavailability of an alternative site and of alternative technologies.

Justice Menelaos Toskos was having none of it. He said the carrier had brought in expert witnesses, while board made arbitrary judgments based on unsubstantiated conjecture.

“The board heard credible testimony from all the expert witnesses that resolved this issue in favor of locating the monopole on the property,” Justice Toskos wrote. “As such, the board cannot unreasonably reject their testimony on bare allegations or unsubstantiated beliefs. Cell zoning boards do not have carte blanch to reject an application based on conjecture that a possible alternative site is both suitable and available.”

In their vote against the tower, members of the board cited visual impact and noise as part of their reasoning. The proposed location of the monopole was chosen, however, to maximize the distance from the residential area. Commercial buildings were to be used as a buffer to obscure the tower, according to testimony presented by the applicants. The judge chastised the board’s aesthetic reasoning for rejecting the monopole.

“Although aesthetic concerns can be a relevant consideration in making a zoning decision … the board had to clearly and concisely address the aesthetic concerns by articulating factual findings supported by expert testimony and make a reasoned determination,” he wrote. “There was no consideration given to the stealthing technique employed,” Justice Toskos wrote.

At the beginning, the siting process was marked by a spirit of cooperation. The proposed tower actually began as two applications. Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile had each filed for 90-foot towers, virtually across the street from each other. At the request of the municipality, the carriers came together and filed for a single 110-foot structure. At the request of the board, the height was increased to 120 feet to accommodate two additional carriers in the future. Additionally, Verizon agreed with a board request to locate its generator on top of one of the buildings, which eliminated any loss of parking spaces.

The good will must have been lost, however. After being read in nine separate meetings, however, the application to construct a 120-foot monopole was denied by a vote of 4 to 3. In a second vote, the original application for a 110-foot monopole had four members vote in favor and three against, but failed to get the needed five-vote super majority.

The BZA will appeal the superior court judge’s decision.

Verizon-Cable Company Spectrum Acquisition OK’d by Justice

The U.S. Department of Justice will allow both Verizon’s proposed acquisitions of spectrum from the cable companies and T-Mobile USA’s contingent purchase of a significant portion of that spectrum from Verizon to go forward.  The transactions facilitate active use of the spectrum and will benefit wireless consumers, according to the department. The transactions still must be reviewed by the FCC.

But the spectrum agreement came with a cost. Verizon and SpectrumCo (Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications) will have to make changes to several agreements concerning both the sale of bundled wireless and wireline services and the formation of a technology research joint venture, both of which were deemed to be anticompetitive by the Justice Dept.

“By limiting the scope and duration of the commercial agreements among Verizon and the cable companies while at the same time allowing Verizon and T-Mobile to proceed with their spectrum acquisitions, the department has provided the right remedy for competition and consumers,” said Joseph Wayland, acting assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “The Antitrust Division’s enforcement action ensures that robust competition between Verizon and the cable companies continues now and in the future as technological change alters the telecommunications landscape.”

Verizon and the cable companies, which are direct competitors in many local markets, had become just a little bit too cozy for the Justice Department’s liking, having entered into a series of commercial agreements that required the companies to sell each other’s products and create an exclusive technology research joint venture.

“The series of commercial agreements between Verizon and the cable companies would have threatened this competition,” the Justice Department wrote. “Most notably, the agreements, as originally structured, would have required Verizon Wireless to sell the cable companies’ services on an “equivalent basis” with FiOS where FiOS is available, thereby reducing Verizon’s ability and incentive to sell its own services aggressively.”

In December of last year, SpectrumCo, a joint venture among Comcast Corporation, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, announced an agreement to sell Verizon its 122 Advanced Wireless Services spectrum licenses covering 259 million POPs for $3.6 billion. News of the deal and the approval by Justice is good for the wireless infrastructure industry. The added spectrum will undoubtedly fuel Verizon Wireless, as well as T-Mobile, in the deployment of cell sites and amendments to existing sites.

Jonathan Campbell, PCIA director of government affairs, reacted to the decision, saying “The Verizon-SpectrumCo deal will benefit wireless consumers by freeing up unused spectrum which — along with essential wireless infrastructure — can be used to deliver next-generation wireless services. PCIA applauds the parties, the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission for their efforts to reach an agreement that will facilitate deployment of vital wireless services.”

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KGI Looks to Collocate Towers With Happy Meals

McDonald’s has signed an agreement with KGI to market its restaurants as sites for cell towers. The agreement covers 11,500 locations nationwide that are owned by the iconic fast food franchise.

“McDonald’s places its restaurants in strategic areas where people live, work and shop,” Mike Kampen, principal, KGI Wireless, told AGL Bulletin. “Those are pretty good criteria for siting cell towers, as well.”

As a result of the agreement, KGI Wireless has established KGI Towers, which will serve as McDonald’s only source for construction and development. McDonald’s had previously promoted itself to carriers as a cell site location, but without too much success.

“The difference here is we are marketing to all the carriers, not just a few. We will build the towers with enough capacity for three or four carriers, which means more revenue for McDonald’s,” Kampen said. “We are simplifying the model. We are probably easier to do business with because they are in the burger business and we are in the cellular business. We know who to call.”

KGI had previously focused on marketing existing towers for companies such as Charter Communications, Verizon Wireless, Mediacom and Time Warner Cable. Although KGI does manage wireless sites for Kum & Go convenience stores.

“This is a divergence from our norm,” Kampen said. “This is the first time KGI has gotten into the ownership side. Previously, we were on the real estate services side. This is an attempt to diversify our organization and provide another revenue opportunity for growth.

KGI currently has agreements to build at six McDonald’s sites. It will build two to three sites in 2011.

“We think it will grow in time as we get deals done with major carriers. We will develop a healthy pipeline and hopefully do a lot of deals over time,” Kampen said. “We recognize there is a need out there. When we got into this business 10 years ago, the search rings were 4 to 5 miles in radius, now a search ring might have a radius of a quarter mile down to a few city blocks. As carriers try to strengthen their networks to provide throughput to handle 4G, their real estate options are limited. This is another viable option.”