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Communications and Public Affairs: 207-7234
Published on Tuesday, October 29, 2019

San Antonio leads Texas in 5G integration

How Transportation & Capital Improvements is blending 5G into the fabric of SA

CONTACT: Joe Conger, (210) 207-5010

SAN ANTONIO (October 29, 2019) — With the demand for high-speed internet service increasing, the City of San Antonio is recognized as one of the first in Texas to create a plan that not only incorporates 5G services into its community, it does it aesthetically with minimum disruption to its existing infrastructure.

“San Antonio is a 300-year old community, which means we need to design features that won’t interfere with our historic structures,” said Marcus Hammer, TCI’s 5G Capital Programs Manager over Right of Way. “And with the possibility of thousands of small cell poles/nodes within the city’s rights-of-way (ROW), we had to act quickly to find solutions.”

Consequently, Right of Way began immediate coordination with interdepartmental staff, CPS Energy, and the wireless providers. In historic or cultural districts, the nodes will match the existing color and schemes and will be blended into the nearby surroundings by special design features. TCI ingenuity has even found ways to supply power to the small cell nodes, which will reduce the amount of sidewalks and roads that would otherwise be torn up. With 5G and other small-cell antenna, the word “small” refers to the range, not the size of the tower.

“The City is also looking at how we charge these providers for power usage, and is considering a ‘flat-rate’ billing structure,” said Hammer. “That can eliminate even more equipment or external wiring being erected in the cityscape.” “San Antonio decided to be pro-active, rather than reactive in its approach to this new wave of technology,” said JD Salinas, Regional Vice President, AT&T External & Legislative Affairs. “They worked with us to develop ways we could provide better service into the downtown area, without disturbing the look and feel of the City. San Antonio is now considered a model nationwide for their coordination, effective, and efficient streamlined processes. As a result, Marcus Hammer is frequently asked to address key state legislative committees and statewide organizations with regard to San Antonio’s best practices.”

Realizing the push by cell companies to offer improved high-speed coverage for mobile users at the street level, the Texas Legislature began work in 2017 to allow providers to construct and operate wireless communications nodes (Small Cell Antennas) in the public right-of-way, where city utilities, cable operators, and others already share space. A year later, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) followed suit, putting in regulations that fast-tracked the installation process across the country.