On April 17, 2006, the City of Geneva adopted an ordinance temporarily stopping the construction of large utility boxes in Geneva's Rights of Way, much like the type AT&T has recently placed in other communities. The City of Geneva felt it important to allow time investigate the full ramifications of such a project before moving forward.
While the temporary ordinance has since expired, AT&T's lawsuit (see below) has finally been withdrawn as of October 3, 2008.
As an example, see the photos below from the City of Wheaton. Clicking on the photo will open a larger view of the same picture.
Box "A" in the photos above (these are located in the City of Wheaton) appears to be a "52B" type box used in Project Lightspeed installations by AT&T. Each box serves roughly 300 to 400 customers. In Geneva's case, that translates to approximately 22 to 29 boxes across the city to serve our citizens. Any requirements to service businesses in Geneva may result in yet additional boxes.
Other communities around our area, such as Wheaton and Roselle, have been served lawsuits for passing ordinances similar to that of Geneva's, and, likewise, expect to be sued.
In addition, this ordinance touched off a public relations push from AT&T (see full page ad in pdf or jpg from the Daily Herald combined with mass emailings from AT&T employees (some examples here) to local elected officials. Nationally, Broadband Reports (here too) and Multichannel News have reported on the issue, local op-ed pieces in the Kane County Chronicle, and its sister publication - the Northwest Herald, as well as coverage of the story in the Beacon, (here too ), the Republican, the Kane County Chronicle & the Daily Herald
Below are a number of points which will clearly state the position of the City of Geneva:
1. Geneva welcomes competition and advanced technologies for the benefit of our citizens. We attempted to
create it ourselves in the past through two broadband referenda proposals (which
AT&T's predecessor, SBC, spent over $200,000 to fight in 2004), and are
currently in discussions to bring wireless internet providers to Geneva as
well. In addition, we have contacted several competing video providers directly and
have invited them to work with us to bring more video choices to our citizens.
2. This temporary moratorium was not initiated in fear of losing franchise fees. We expect no significant net gain from any new entrant to Geneva because customers gained by a new video provider would for the most
part be at the expense of an incumbent provider.
3. We have a legal and ethical responsibility to uphold the rights of our
existing franchise holders. In fact the Illinois Level Playing Field Statute [65 ILCS 5/11-42-11(e)] requires it. After extensive legal review by national, state & local counsel, we are confident we have the right and the duty to require similar expectations from new video providers to our city.
4. AT&T’s arguments that local franchise aggreements do not apply to them because they are not a traditional cable provider are unfounded . Under Federal law there may be some clarity issues, but under existing Illinois Law, there is no question as to what AT&T is offering.
65 ILCS 5/11‑42‑11(b):
b) The words "community antenna television system" shall mean any facility which is constructed in whole or in part in, on, under or over any highway or other public place and which is operated to perform for hire the service of receiving and amplifying the signals broadcast by one or more television stations and redistributing such signals by wire, cable or other means to members of the public who subscribe to such service; except that such definition shall not include (i) any system which serves fewer than fifty subscribers, or (ii) any system which serves only the residents of one or more apartment dwellings under common ownership, control or management, and commercial establishments located on the premises of such dwellings.
Or, succinctly, legislation to deal with AT&T’s products already exists in Illinois. There is no need for new regulation to address their products.
5. AT&T has informed City Staff that they will make no commitment to serve our entire city with the same offering for all citizens. To agree to their
current proposal would amount to the city actively permitting AT&T to redline our citizenry. In other words, they can pick and choose which customers hold the
most value to them and serve only them. As is required in our existing franchises, we believe that our entire
community should be treated equally.
6 This moratorium was a "time out" to allow the city to review the overall
scope of our rights of way and the impact private providers have on them
from both aesthetic and public safety point of view. That safety issue has come to the forefront recently with the explosion of one of an AT&T box in Texas (see story at http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=109923.) The City must be able
to control where very large utility boxes are located and will not allow
outside corporations to dictate what is best for the citizens of Geneva.
A longer discussion of the history of the issue can be found here.
Comments of Geneva Mayor Kevin R. Burns from April 24, 2006 can be found here.
Some recent press coverage of the issue in other cities can be found here:
From the Chicago Tribune:
From the Daily Herald:
From the Beacon:
Video of Naperville's Public Hearing (one hour, fifteen minutes) concerning Project Lightspeed in Windows Media Format in one file. (left click link to play or right click to download entire discussion).
Same Public Hearing in Sections
Sect. 1 - Meeting Opening
Sect. 2 - Kevin Austin, Naperville Resident, AT&T Employee
Sect. 3 - Mary Shedlock, Naperville Resident
Sect. 4 - Joe Taylor, Naperville Resident, AT&T Employee
Sect. 5 - George Stenitzer, VP, Tellabs
Sect. 6 - Liz Spencer, Executive Director, Naperville Community Television
Sect. 7 - Vincent Heaton, VP of Sales, Alcatel
Sect. 8 - Craig D., Naperville Resident
Sect. 9 - Rachel Roemke, Executive Director, Advanced Technical Alliance
Sect. 10 - John Ebers, Naperville Resident, AT&T Employee
Sect. 11 - Gary Mack, Cable Television and Communications Association of Illinois
Sect. 12 - Carlo Cavallaro, Comcast
Sect. 13 - Mike Tye, VP of Legislative Affairs, Midwest Region, AT&T
Sect. 14 - Rev. James Demus, Ministerial Alliance Against the Digital Divide
Sect. 15 - Calvin Fee, Wide Open West
Sect. 16 - Peter T. Burchard, City Manager, City of Naperville
Sect. 17 - Grant Wehrli, Councilman, City of Naperville
Sect. 18 - Richard Furstenau, Councilman, City of Naperville
Sect. 19 - Darlene Senger, Councilman, City of Naperville
Sect. 20 - John Rosanova,
Councilman, City of Naperville (discussion of utility box sizing)
Sect. 21 - James Boyajian, Councilman, City of Naperville
Sect. 22 - Dennis B., Naperville Resident
Sect. 23 - Naperville Council adopts Option "A"
Geneva FCC Ex Parte Filing
Ordinance 2006-58 - AMENDING CHAPTER 5, TITLE 4 OF THE GENEVA CITY CODE BY PROVIDING FOR THE FRANCHISING AND REGULATION OF CABLE TELEVISION SYSTEMS AND MULTICHANNEL VIDEO COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS IN THE CITY OF GENEVA, KANE COUNTY, ILLINOIS
Ordinance 2006-69 Amending the City Code by Amending Title 8, Chapter 3 Establishing Standards for the Construction of Utility Facilities on the Public Rights-of-Way.
Interview: Fighting AT&T - 06/08/06
Suburbs against the U(ni)verse: the battle over AT&T's fiber rollout - 12/19/06
Fighting AT&T- The battle over franchise agreements - 12/19/06
Slashdot - The Battle Over AT&T's Fiber Rollout - 12/19/06
AT&T Playing Nasty with Itasca? - 02/22/07
Recent Mailers from what appears to be an Astroturf (Fake Grassroots) Organization - the Advanced Technology Alliance. (see video from their spokesperson in Naperville, also Sect.9 above.)
An article about their background
Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to address them via email to Mayor Burns or your Aldermen or by calling Geneva City Hall at 630.232.7494.
Thank you for your interest.