A telecommunications company is asking Pasco officials to get in on the latest technology so residents can quickly download music or watch videos over social media.
Mobilitie LLC has applied with the city to install utility poles in five locations within the public right-of-way.
Yet, while the poles will provide infrastructure for both wired and wireless networks, the only benefit is to Sprint customers at this time.
“Right now our client in the Tri-Cities is Sprint, so if people wanted this technology right now they would have to switch to Sprint,” Steven Berke told Pasco City Council members on Monday.
Berke is a permitting manager for the privately held utility company, which is based in Newport Beach, Calif. He is responsible for the Inland Northwest area, and said the company’s hybrid transportation network would provide high-speed, high-capability bandwidth to meet the ever-growing demand for connectivity with the next generation of devices and data services.
The old cell towers that people see around town mostly were developed for the flip phone, Berke explained. Now, most households have at least two or three smartphones.
“Technology is headed in this direction, and the city of Pasco has the opportunity to have this latest technology that potentially could attract businesses to your community and it could potentially keep businesses in your community,” Berke said.
“… We’re not here because we think there is going to be an opportunity for (Mobilitie). We’re here because it’s consumer-driven. The community wants this kind of technology.”
He noted that he is able to work remotely from his home office in Coeur d’Alene because of Mobilitie’s technology.
Unlike other infrastructure that requires trenching or boring under streets, Berke said this franchise application instead involves placing the poles on public property. All of the equipment is inside the pole.
Three of the poles would be made of steel and reach 63 feet, while the other two would be wood and measure 28 feet and 37 feet.
The proposed sites are 14th Avenue and West Henry Street, 6605 Burden Blvd., 7421 Sandifur Parkway, 17th Avenue and West Sylvester Street, and Madison Avenue and Hartford Drive.
The base of each pole is estimated to be 3 1/2 feet, leaving at minimum 2 additional feet in the designated right-of-way for other utilities.
A right-of-way often includes the gutter, curb, grass/gravel strip and sidewalk next to the roadway, where utilities like sewer, water and gas lines are located for adjacent properties.
The public right-of-way can be utilized by any applicant, but the city must first sign a franchise agreement.
City Engineer Dan Ford told council members that existing franchisees offer services to all Pasco residents, unlike this applicant with its limited customer base. City staff recommends the application be rejected, in part because the proposed structures would prevent future use of the right-of-way.
Councilman Tom Larsen said he would vote against the application because it deals with telephones. Other council members appeared to have reservations and questioned why Mobilitie wouldn’t consider working with private property owners instead of the city.
The issue is expected to be on the April 17 council agenda for a decision.