In Penitas, Texas, what appears to be a new small cell pole was erected overnight near a busy thoroughfare. There is a great news story about this in the video below.
If you watch the video closely, you will see a small microwave dish at the top which suggests that this is a mini-macro for Sprint, possibly built by Mobilitie. Six or so months ago, we had heard a rumor that Sprint had ordered a few thousand steel poles but because we couldn't get any other confirmation of this, we didn't go public with that information. This specific pole looks like it was clearly pre-manufactured and cookie-cutter. We haven't seen drawings or plan submittals that look like this though anywhere.
In reviewing the video, it appears that the company installing it has not added panels to the top of the pole but that there are mounts for them. There is an odd shroud that we surmise may hide additional mounts for other small panels possibly for collocation by other wireless providers.
Another indication that this may be Mobilitie is a post that someone from Mobilitie made on LinkedIn. (I don't care to call attention to the individual- just the content of the message- he is just doing his job)
"Went out to the field to kick off our Mobilitie build program. I had an awesome time out in the field again. I miss it from time to time but My office has been very nice to me. Any one in the SE or NE want to be apart of the build program shoot me a message or give me a call. I was able to train a crew and at the same time build 9 sites in 4 days. The money is good even with the rush of the program."
If this pole is Mobilitie's, we expect that this type of news story will occur over and over again in recent months as we wonder whether Mobilitie is attempting to get these poles up and standing prior to the FCC proposed rule-making that will be discussed at the April 20th FCC meeting but not enacted for months. Our read of the tea leaves is that the FCC will not be granting favorable treatment to 50' and taller poles and will likely require that they meet local zoning requirements. If this is the case, Mobilitie may be trying to get poles standing in order to avoid potential zoning requirements that may be required in the future for such poles. We have to wonder whether the entity that constructed this pole submitted and received approval from SHPO/NEPA. The news story says that there was no permit pulled for this pole installation.
Further potential evidence of this is that Mobilitie posted 170+ jobs across the country just over a week ago- which included construction and network related jobs.
If our suspicions are correct, there will be many news stories like this in the coming months. New not-so-small cell poles will be erected "overnight" and municipalities will be left trying to figure out who built them.