AT&T and other mobile phone providers are pushing legislation they say will ease congestion on their networks. But some towns and cities across Illinois are worried it’s really a power grab.
Wireless companies say the future requires going beyond large towers, adding “small cells” targeted to areas that need better connectivity.
AT&T spokesman Eric Robinson said the rise of video on phones is crowding networks.
“The idea with small cells is to relieve capacity there, so that people have a better, faster wireless experience," Robinson said.
The legislation would allow companies to put up micro towers on light poles and elsewhere in public rights-of-way. But cities are objecting. Some worry the devices could undo beautification efforts. Others, like Springfield, where taxpayers own the electric utility, say caps on fees for the cells would be a substantial hit to the budget.
The House and Senate have both passed the legislation, but Senate President John Cullerton is using a parliamentary maneuver to stall the bill. He says he intends to address the cities’ concerns.
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