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AT&T Sues Albany Over Council Decision on Cell Tower

The wireless service provider filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the city for prohibiting the company from mounting new cell phone antennas on the rooftop of a San Pablo building.

Whether AT&T Wireless should be allowed to install new cell phone antennas on a San Pablo Avenue rooftop is now a question for federal court.

AT&T filed a lawsuit against Albany on Wednesday in response to the to deny the company's plans to improve cell phone service in the city.

AT&T is requesting a court order that would require the city to grant the company's application to construct new antennas on the rooftop at 1035 San Pablo Ave.

AT&T and city officials have not responded to requests for comment yet.

According to the formal complaint (attached as a PDF to the right), AT&T claims that the council's decision "effectively prohibited AT&T from closing a significant service coverage gap in the City," which violated the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

AT&T also points to the fact that the rooftop that it wants to use already has Sprint antennas.

See all of Albany Patch's cell tower coverage. 

"By denying AT&T's Application even though Sprint was allowed to install its facility on the rooftop of the Site, the City is discriminating against AT&T," the complaint states.

AT&T chose that specific San Pablo rooftop because of a section in Albany's municipal code that mandates new wireless communication facilities be co-located with existing facilities whenever possible, according to the complaint.

But the Planning & Zoning Commission , and again in May. The commissioners cited the city's rules about rooftop coverage as the reason for the denial, saying there was not enough room on the building's roof.

AT&T appealed to the City Council, . Before the second meeting, AT&T submitted revised plans that the company argued would have met the rooftop requirements.

But city officials said it was too little, too late, and in a split 3-2 vote the council upheld the planning commission's decision.

In the formal complaint, AT&T argues that the council's decision was not supported by substantial evidence, pointing to the contradiction between the city's co-location mandate and its rooftop coverage limitations.

AT&T also claims the City Council relied on public concerns about radio frequency emissions——in making its decision, which violates the Telecommunications Act.

AT&T's efforts over the last four years to install new cell phone antennas in Albany have elicited passionate responses from both and .

Several residents feared the City Council's decision in July would lead to a lawsuit.

AT&T has requested an expedited review of the case, though that request has not yet been granted.

David Sanger August 22, 2012 at 04:02 AM
seems like the older 850MHz frequency "The company temporarily shut down the 850 MHz frequency for 2G customers. The 2G network is the company's oldest, meaning relatively few customers would be affected, Britton said. Those on 2G are using some of the company's oldest phones and would still be supported in the affected areas on the 1900 MHz frequency. "The company temporarily shut down the 850 MHz frequency for 2G customers. The 2G network is the company's oldest, meaning relatively few customers would be affected..... Those on 2G are using some of the company's oldest phones and would still be supported in the affected areas on the 1900 MHz frequency."
Chris September 04, 2012 at 09:13 PM
so how long will this lawsuit take to get improved AT&T coverge to Albany? 3 months? 6 months? 1 yr?
David Sanger September 04, 2012 at 10:19 PM
That's nonsense. People sue AT&T all the time. Why do you want to sue AT&T?
David Sanger September 04, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Here's the letter from the Verizon case. In contrast to Clay's statement I think it's fair to say Albany lost and Verizon won, though no doubt some of the pressure to settle came from the Middle Class Tax Relief Act 2012 which preempted local control over collocations. http://www.scribd.com/doc/104919685/Settlement-Letter-Verizon-vs-City-of-Albany
David Sanger May 18, 2013 at 06:47 PM
to answer @Chris's question it looks like the facility will be up by the end of the year.

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