The Alabama Senate approved legislation Thursday aimed at increasing access to 5G wireless service by establishing standards for installation of equipment on existing utility poles.
SB 172 by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, would set a statewide fee structure and guidelines for wireless providers to mount or install small wireless facilities on existing poles. It also outlines procedures for installing new poles on government rights-of-way and exempts small wireless facilities from certain zoning requirements.
The measure passed unanimously, but has been opposed by some municipalities because it limits the amount utilities can charge wireless companies for installing 5G devices on existing poles. Sen. Orr said the legislation is necessary for economic development and to keep Alabama from missing out on billions of dollars being invested in 5G technology.
While 5G service will not immediately reach rural residents, proponents said SB 172 builds on the Legislature’s work in recent years to provide all Alabama residents access to broadband internet.