Tucson Electric Power works collaboratively to mitigate adverse impacts from infrastructure projects – even when that infrastructure belongs to someone else.

For example, many of the wires strung along TEP’s poles belong to telecommunications companies. We also allow telecom providers to install mobile networking equipment on our poles. As long as these facilities won’t compromise the safety and reliability of our service, we’re happy to host them.

These accommodations are not merely corporate citizenship; they’re required by law. In accordance with the law, TEP develops standardized agreements with applicants and responds promptly to all co-location requests, with details that include the costs they would incur for any upgrades required to allow their installations.

Of course, providers can choose to develop their own infrastructure, especially if TEP’s poles aren’t located where they want their equipment. This could be the case with new “small cell” poles being installed in the Tucson area by telecom providers to support their new 5G wireless service.

These slender steel poles stand a few dozen feet tall with communications equipment attached near the top. They have been installed along city streets and in other parts of the public right-of-way.

These new facilities have attracted attention from residents and local elected officials, including some who have asked TEP why telecom companies aren’t installing this equipment on TEP’s poles. In most cases, the answer is simple enough: they haven’t asked.

TEP is ready and willing to host 5G facilities on our poles. The only such request we received by April 20, from Verizon, was approved the following day. We don’t require lengthy contract negotiations, and we work hard to accommodate requests for specific poles.

Because our poles are designed for electric service, they often must be replaced or upgraded to support other facilities. Those costs can be significant, particularly if a new pole is required and we must send crews out to facilitate the work. It might well be quicker and cost less for telecom providers to install their own poles where they need them the most.

TEP stands ready to support the local rollout of 5G service. Our employees live and work alongside our customers, and we share an interest in our city’s livability and wellbeing. That’s why we’ll continue working collaboratively to develop the infrastructure our community needs with minimal adverse impacts.

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