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Neo Network Development today activated the first installation of a “small-cell” communications system housed on Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) traffic-signal poles at the intersection of 13 Mile and Lahser roads in Beverly Hills (right outside the RCOC administrative offices).
The installation is the result of a first-of-its-kind public/private partnership agreement between RCOC and Neo Network , which is deploying the network on behalf of a major U.S. wireless carrier. The agreement involves the Road Commission leasing space on its traffic signal poles to the wireless carrier so the company can place its small cell on the poles.
Small cells are low-powered cellular radio access nodes that have a range of up to a couple miles.
“This is a win/win situation,” explained RCOC Managing Director Dennis Kolar. “It ensures the telecommunications industry the ability to install the latest in communications hardware while providing the Road Commission with a new revenue source. This saves taxpayer dollars.”
“The initial deployment includes about 250 locations on our ‘vertical infrastructure’,” explained RCOC Chairman Eric Wilson. “It will result in an increase in our revenue stream of between $225,000 and 250,000 per year,” he added.
Wilson noted the revenue will be used to invest in RCOC buildings and grounds, so that tax-payer dollars can be devoted to improving roads.
The agreement was brokered by Neo Network, a private company that develops and markets RCOC’s vertical infrastructure.
“This is a creative new approach to managing the issue of hosting telecommunications and wireless facilities in the road rights of way,” Wilson noted. “This is truly cutting edge and solves a number of problems that both road agencies and telecoms have been struggling with.”
He added that the state Legislature is currently considering legislation that would impact telecoms in the road rights of way. “We figured out how to do this in a way in which everyone benefits – both the public road agency and the telecommunications and wireless carriers,” Wilson said. “This is a very timely development in light of the Legislature’s current activities and demonstrates that the legislation is not necessary.”
“This agreement provides a great model for how the public and private sectors can work together on the issue of placing telecommunications equipment in road rights of way in a way that meets the needs of both,” Wilson said. “It’s fair to both the road agency and the telecoms. This is a scalable and repeatable model that could easily be adopted by transportation agencies and municipalities across Michigan and the nation.”
RCOC’s program allows the Road Commission to enter agreements to lease vertical infrastructure space to other telecom companies as well. “Right now, Neo Network is talking to other companies that could result in additional leases,” Wilson said.
The master lease agreement provides for five- and ten-year lease terms with automatic five-year renewals and requires the lessees to follow RCOC’s safety, planning and permit requirements.
“We retain control of our infrastructure and rights of way,” Wilson said of the agreement. “Additionally, if there is a road project or other reason that we need to move the infrastructure, the carrier is responsible for the cost of moving its equipment. And, they pay all normal permit fees just like any other company that places equipment or provides service from within our right of way.”