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Columbia to rent power pole space

The City of Columbia will rent space on its power poles for new cell phone equipment. The move is expected to improve cell data service in certain parts of the city.

The company Mobilitie, which goes by the name Missouri Network Utility Transport, wants to put its equipment on the city-owned poles, including electric poles and street lights.

The company offers what’s called small cell service. The antenna and box attached to three poles don’t give widespread cell coverage, but concentrates it to the area around it.

Mobilitie would still have the company pay the city $540 for each pole over five years, and can renew the lease for a higher price.

Right now, only cellphone companies that do business with Mobilitie would see better service.

Deputy city attorney Jack McManus said the agreement may work as a model as other companies, like AT&T, consider offering small cell service.

“The number of poles available in the city is probably high enough that we would be able to accommodate them,” said McManus. “I think there’s the expectation that we’ll see more.”

If the equipment were to break, it would be up to Mobilitie to fix it.

ABC 17 News is told the company has a national center that can dispatch crews to fix that equipment if called.

McManus said the company is considering more than 20 permits, so far.

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