26 states have now enacted wireless broadband small cell legislation. Alabama is falling behind.

Without consistent guidelines to deploy the latest in wireless broadband infrastructure, we put at risk Alabama’s ability to effectively compete in a digital economy.

AT&T and other wireless providers are supporting Senate Bill 264.

We are now up to 26 states that have enacted small cell legislation. Unfortunately, Alabama is not one of them.

The Alabama Legislature is currently considering small cell legislation – Senate Bill 264, introduced by Senator Arthur Orr. Small cells are an economic development issue for our state, and legislation is needed to continue positioning Alabama as a leader in connectivity and help ensure we have 21st century infrastructure to benefit consumers and retain and attract businesses.

While a handful of local jurisdictions have been receptive, many localities have pursued burdensome processes and significant monetary barriers that are delaying, and in some cases prohibiting, the deployment of wireless broadband small cells. The city by city approach is not working, and our state is falling further behind.

Ongoing advancements in wireless broadband technologies are necessary to keep pace with consumer demand and are crucial to our state’s continued economic success. Without the ability to deploy the latest in wireless broadband infrastructure, we put at risk our ability to effectively compete in a digital economy.

In fact, the Lost Economy Study estimates over the next 7 years wireless providers will invest $4 billion in our Alabama economy, helping drive $18.1 billion in consumer benefits statewide and generating $2.2 billion in employment earnings while adding 7,000 jobs in Alabama per year. Without a predictable environment for wireless providers to deploy next generation broadband infrastructure, this estimate cannot become a reality and these economic benefits cannot be realized.

Through no small effort, Alabama has become one of the most attractive places to live, work, do business and visit. To maintain our stellar reputation in the economic development world, we must ensure our state is prepared for continued growth and future success.

Enacting SB 264 will help bring the many benefits of wireless broadband technologies to Alabamians and will help our state remain at the forefront of the technology sector.

Alabama policy-makers and elected leaders have worked hard over the years to create an environment that welcomes business investment. Let’s don’t stop now.

Sincerely,

Wayne Hutchens

President — AT&T Alabama

The need for small cell legislation – SB 264:

Since January 2007, the amount of data used on AT&T’s network alone increased by more than 470,000%. As Alabamians continue to increasingly rely on wireless devices as their primary way to stay connected, data usage will only continue to rise. To address this growth, wireless providers can use wireless broadband small cells to enhance consumer experiences today by addressing capacity – or coverage issues – and prepare for future technologies like 5G and AirGig.

What small cells do:
  • Increase wireless internet speeds;
  • Provide more network capacity and enhance coverage in hard to reach areas;
  • Lay the foundation for the next evolution of wireless technologies, like 5G and smart cities, offering more cost-effective ways to deliver gigabit connections across Alabama; and,
  • Improve customer experiences in places where large towers aren’t the best solution.

As the president of AT&T Alabama, Wayne Hutchens is responsible for developing the overall strategic direction of AT&T's public policy and corporate activities across the state.

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