Local governments and wireless providers are working together to deploy small cells and improve connectivity. That’s the takeaway from this week’s “Small Cells, Big Opportunity” panel at the Incompas Show in New Orleans.

Rondella Hawkins from member city Austin, TX joined Charles McKee of Sprint, and Russell Sarazen of T-Mobile to discuss delivering on the promise of small cells. Next Century Cities Deputy Director Todd O’Boyle moderated.

Small cells do more than just improve mobile network reliability – they stand to create the platform for autonomous vehicles, wearable computers, and advanced healthcare applications.

But first local governments and wireless providers must come to terms on attaching small cells. Rondella Hawkins described the City of Austin’s recently-concluded process to write rules for approving small cells. The City engaged providers in a dialog about access to public facilities and the fee structure for approving small cells.

Panelists also discussed the ongoing debate about state legislation to pre-empt a city’s own siting guidelines with state-wide rules. Cities and providers have different agendas so they may never agree completely on the best approval processes, but by working together they can achieve workable compromises.


“Next Century Cities members like Austin and Incompas members are leading the way to deliver on the promise of small cells,” said Todd O’Boyle, Deputy Director of Next Century Cities. “Thanks to innovative local partnerships people across the country are experiencing the benefits of robust mobile networks and enhanced competition.”

Next Century Cities thanks Incompas for inviting us to convene this crucial conversation.