March 24, 2016 — The wireless industry needs to change small cell deployment tactics and adopt a collaborative approach with zoning authorities or it will ruin its relationships with local municipalities, Allan Tantillo, senior director, national site development, T-Mobile, said in his keynote address at IWCE’s Network Infrastructure Form, Wednesday, in Las Vegas.
“What is important is that we really need to focus on the education and outreach to those that are impacted by our deployments, particularly in the small cell world,” Tantillo said.
Tantillo liken the current small cell deployment environment to the macrocell deployments of the late 1990s when the FCC issued spectrum for multiple carriers. The first two carriers aggressively filed applications with local jurisdictions without local support their cell site deployments, which cause political problems for later cell site proposals from other carriers.
“As a result, the other carriers were faced with moratoriums, and hostile municipalities and neighborhood associations. It made it much more difficult for the rest of us to overcome,” he said. “We are headed toward a similar thing in the small cell world. We have a couple who are charging ahead with their mini-macros. They are really not true small cells. They are using that gap and they are going to create a problem.”
T-Mobile has been able to accomplish its goals by taking a collaborative approach to working with broadcasters in the 700 MHz spectrum. It also is working closely with municipalities and utilities, sharing its wireless deployment plans. T-Mobile has developed a website, www.howmobileworks.com, and a small cell video to help the industry educate the municipalities, small cells, macrocell deployment issues and situations where temporary cell sites are required for special events.
“Our educational outreach and development materials and training help set the standard for what we are trying to do – to help others understand our strategy,” Tantillo said. “What we have found in the site development world is when people are educated they are much more likely work together with us to find reasonable solutions that work for both parties.”