ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Telecommunications company Verizon Wireless has filed a lawsuit against the City of Rochester.
The lawsuit revolves around Verizon’s plan to roll out their 5G network. Verizon’s lawsuit claims Rochester’s updated city code limits their network’s capacity.
Earlier this year, Rochester City Council passed new regulations that will limit what are called “nodes” and new cell towers. Nodes are needed to operate the new, faster network. In other cities, Verizon has said it will need to install hundreds, if not thousands, of new cell towers.
The lawsuit says the city’s ordinance violates federal law, specifically regarding wireless network infrastructure, saying in part:
“The Code violates Section 253 (see full lawsuit below) by, among other things, imposing upon wireless providers non-cost-based fees on the deployment and maintenance of Small Wireless Facilities and wireline facilities connecting Small Wireless Facilities with network equipment that are deployed underground or aerially in the public rights-of-way, into an operational network.“
Verizon’s aim with this lawsuit is to prohibit the city from enforcing certain provisions of their code. Part of the city’s code includes imposing registration and installation fees, for both “aerial” and “underground” installations. Verizon argues these fees violate The Communications Act.
The lawsuit says Verizon is seeking to extend, densify, and upgrade its wireless network infrastructure in Rochester, but will need new approvals to access certain city properties to do so.
A timeline of events that led up to this lawsuit, according to Verizon:
- January 10, 2019 — Verizon petitioned to the city in writing to not enact the code.
- February 9, 2019 — Verizon provided the city, in writing, with suggested revisions to the code to comply with federal law.
- February 20, 2019 — City Council enacted the code without incorporating Verizon’s suggested revisions.
- April 1, 2019 — The code took effect.
- April 15, 2019 — Verizon sought clarification from the city as to whether the code complied with federal law, and if so, to provide evidence to support the claim.
- April 29, 2019 — City tells Verizon their code complies with all federal requirements and limitations.
- April 29, 2019 — “Communication made clear that an unavoidable and actual controversy exists,” Verizon’s lawsuit said.
According to the lawsuit, 5G networks are up to 100 times faster than 4G networks and have very low latency (transmission delay), which permits the offering of a wide range of “innovative services.” Wireless providers are projected to invest $275 billion over the next decade in next-generation wireless infrastructure deployments, which is estimated to generate three million new jobs and boost the nation’s GDP by half a trillion dollars, according to Verizon’s lawsuit.
The lawsuit also says “The Communications Act ‘makes clear Congress’s commitment to a competitive telecommunications marketplace unhindered by unnecessary regulations’, explicitly directing the FCC to ‘promote competition and reduce regulation in order to secure lower prices and higher quality services for American telecommunications consumers and encourage the rapid deployment of new telecommunications technologies.'”
City of Rochester officials released a statement Monday regarding the lawsuit:
“The City of Rochester is dedicated to ensuring its infrastructure is protected and maintained to benefit taxpayers. Other communications providers are complying with the law while building out their networks and paying the necessary fees. These fees are comparable to what other cities required. The City is confident in our position against this frivolous lawsuit. We will have no further comment on pending litigation.”