Zayo small cell work in Kansas on hold as new permit laws considered

Zayo Group is in the process of installing 100 small cells around Wichita, Kans. in order to boost Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) coverage in the area. But Zayo is holding on off on similar projects while the Kansas Governor's office considers a bill that would shift the permitting process for those types of deployments.

The bill would limit or remove local government's ability to limit height of deployments or request co-locations.

"This bill would totally take any sort of local oversight away and any sort of voice the citizens have away," James Clendenin, Wichita city council member, told KAKE.

Clendenin and other city officials told KAKE that the deployments are a good thing but that they want to make sure to have oversight on right-of-way placements in order to make sure installations happen in a safe and aesthetically pleasing way.

Witchita in 2014 approved the 100 small cells for deployment by IdeaTek, a company that was acquired in 2015 by Zayo. Zayo is now carrying out that agreement as well as giving the city $110,000 for permission to deploy antennas on public property.

Zayo was not immediately available for comment on the bill.

The Governor has until April 8 to sign the bill into law or veto.

BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk recently pointed out that, as small cell deployments become more commonplace and citizens become more aware of the technology's proliferation in metro markets, installations could become more complicated. Specifically, he said Verizon was only able to deploy 75 of a planned 400 small cells around San Francisco leading up to Super Bowl 50 when the carrier wasn't able to deploy small cells on traffic lights as it had originally planned.

"We suspect the challenges to small cell deployment will continue to increase as local communities become more aware of their proliferation," Piecyk wrote, adding that San Francisco's planning commission recently voted for a code amendment to address increased amounts of small cells and make sure operators have to make repairs and perform maintence by requiring permit renewals after 10 years.

Bills like the one currently being considered in Kansas could potentially simplify the process for carriers and companies like Zayo by eliminating the need to include local governments in the permitting process.

For more:
- see this KAKE story
- see this Inside Towers story

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