Sprint Approved ‘Trial’ for Contractor Mobilitie to Build Wireless Sites Without Completing Regulatory Compliance

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Event Driven Takeaways

  • According to an internal Sprint email dated April 25 and obtained by Event Driven, Sprint Corp. appears to have initiated a trial in February under which Sprint granted its wireless infrastructure contractor, Mobilitie, permission to commence construction on “mini macro” and “monopole” wireless site installations “without necessarily securing certain build prerequisites.” The trial concluded at the end of March.
  • “Mini macro” and “monopole” site installations are types of wireless infrastructure sites designed to build a better network through cell site densification and cost reductions as part of indebted Sprint’s “turnaround” plan.
  • Sprint determined that the trial had not demonstrated any tangible benefits in getting new sites “on-air” more quickly that would outweigh the “reputational risk” of commencing construction without first securing all regulatory approvals. Sprint concluded that, going forward, Mobilitie must obtain “full AZP” (acquisition, zoning, permitting) for new sites.
  • “We take regulatory compliance at all levels very seriously. As soon as we learned about this issue, we took immediate action to gather the facts. Until that process is complete, it would be inappropriate to comment further,” Sprint’s head of corporate communications said.
  • Cities have fined Mobilitie in the past and made it remove unauthorized cell site installations.
  • The FCC began a rulemaking process on April 20 to streamline new wireless infrastructure deployment, partly in response to a request from Mobilitie in late 2016.

Sprint Corp. initiated a “trial” during the first quarter to allow its wireless infrastructure contractor to commence construction on new wireless sites without full regulatory compliance, according to an internal email from Chris Mills, Sprint’s Vice President of Network Development, obtained by Event Driven. Sprint, the fourth largest U.S. wireless carrier, found that the “reputational risk” of not “fully completing regulatory compliance” for these wireless sites was not offset by sufficient “tangible on-air benefit” fo