Generators at a Cell Site – Your Cell Site
Hurricane Katrina rendered many cell sites (“towers” in some observer’s minds, but rooftops and other personal wireless service facilities as well) inoperable, even though they had been presented by their owners as “indestructible.” The problems went beyond collapse hazard and debris fall (antennas blowing down from high mounts). The greatest problem was power outage: the local electric utility wires were down and a cell site without power goes down as well. Restoring power took weeks, sometimes months.
The FCC commissioned a panel that recommended a new rule: back-up power (e.g., generators) at every cell site would be a good idea. The FCC issued an Order that proposed a new Section of The FCC rules, 12.2, which requires 8 hours of back-up power at each cell site by early 2008 or the carrier must take a year for explaining why each cell site’s generator was not in-place and file a plan for compliance.
The Carriers Don’t Like This Rule
Section 12.2 has yet to be implemented. The Bush Administration’s Office of Management and Budget is still reviewing the rule under the “Paperwork Reduction Act.” Meanwhile, the carriers licensed by the FCC are throwing everything but Cruise Missiles at the rule, spending millions of dollars on lawyers to fight a rule that will cost each carrier several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Let’s review the carrier’s reasons for opposing the rule:
· It’s too expensive. (Yes, and every time a lawyer invoices the industry for coming up with a new obstruction strategy, it becomes more expensive.)
· Generators at every site won’t guarantee emergency communications during a disaster. (Yes, that’s true, but does that mean we shouldn’t do it?)
· It will take too much time to survey each cell site for the carrier to determine the best way, if any, to provide eight hours of back-up power.
· Landlords and property owners will need to be negotiated with, and additional permits will need to be obtained from local governments, for each and every generator.
Now we can reveal another concern of the carriers: the rule requires an inventory of each cell site in the U.S. CTIA, The Wireless Association, says there are 200,000-plus cell sites in the U.S. PlanWireless believes the total is closer to 600,000.
The Rule Would Require Many Uncounted Cell Sites to Suddenly Appear
CTIA counts a “tower” as a cell site. The average “tower” has two-plus carriers on it. So there are many cell sites that would suddenly “appear” because one generator on a lease area with two carriers won’t meet the proposed rule. Here’s some simple math:
· Two carriers at one lease area will require two generators.
· Three carriers at one lease area will require three generators.
· Four carriers at one lease area will require four generators.
· And so on, to the carrier’s great fear of having their “pirate” sites discovered.
· As PlanWireless has been saying: one carrier is one cell site, a second carrier on the same “tower” is two cell sites, etc.
If anyone could access the “generator” inventory and compare it to those cell sites with permits from local governments, there would be a huge discrepancy. That fact may be what carriers fear the most.
This is an Opportunity for Landlords
Should the landlord have the opportunity to re-negotiate a lease if generators are to be introduced on a site? Look at it this way: are considerations of space, safety and noise important issues at cell sites?
Once a lease is re-negotiated for a generator, all sorts of other issues appear. Our clients are not only asking for lease modifications, they want to see how many square feet are being used; now and in the future.
Carriers use space they don’t account for. A generator will add to that space, not to mention fuel lines, fuel tanks and access ways. So the potential increase in rent is also a great fear of the carriers, even though that increase in rent will surely come when the current lease expires.
Kreines & Kreines, Inc.