Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a measure to bring uniformity in Illinois for cell service providers to install small cell technology known as 5G throughout the state, but the capital city isn’t on board.
Senate Bill 1451 is now law. The measure sets out guidelines for local governments and utility or right-of-way authorities on what kinds of deals they can make with telecommunications companies looking to set up newer and more advanced cellular telecommunications technology.
Local governments may charge a one-time fee of $1,000, but they can't charge annual recurring rates, the law states.
Gov. Bruce Rauner said the measure was needed to attract the investment and create jobs.
“Without some standardization, without some streamlining of the process, we could have Illinois be way behind other states in terms of attracting 5G technology and investment,” Rauner said. “This is billions of dollars in investment coming to Illinois.”
Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch said the measure helps job creators.
“How do we get the technology to compete for the jobs of tomorrow? This legislation is incredibly important and really lifting them up to be on a level playing field and to compete,” Maisch said.
Springfield, with a publicly owned utility, opposed the bill.
Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder said the city is worried about control over aesthetics and making sure the entire city, not just certain sections, gets coverage.
“Really, the main driver is the cost and what we’ve invested in our infrastructure for our utility and our ratepayers and they’re just kind of taking advantage of that situation,” Langfelder said.
Rauner said the law is a compromise with cities that opposed the measure. But Langfelder said the law takes away the city’s ability for its publicly owned power plant to get a good deal for tax and ratepayers.
“And so we have the infrastructure our ratepayers have paid for with utility poles where other cities don’t have that expense,” Langfelder said.
When the measure was debated in committee late last year, state Sen. Lindal Homes said there were problems.
“Your Springfied, your Rockford, your Elgin, your Aurora, your Naperville, that do have very large areas,” Holmes, D-Aurora, said. “And to be honest, when you preempt home rule, that always raises a red flag.”
The act does not apply to Chicago, despite Springfield and other cities also wanting to be exempt from the law.