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7/18/2013 1:09:00 PM

AT&T 4G upgrade on Minocqua town hall debated by board

Members of board feel company misled town about proposed cell service upgrade
Joe VanDeLaarschot Reporter

After more than an hour of discussion in which voices were raised and one town supervisor accused AT&T officials of lying to the town, Minocquas town board gave approval to allow the communications company to upgrade its cellular phone equipment located on the roof of the town hall. In December, town officials gave AT&T permission to upgrade its cellular equipment on the town hall roof to 4GLTE (Long Term Evolution) technology. Town officials said they heard very little There is a trail of people representing from AT&T since that approval was AT&T saying they would get 4G LTE granted, until the company attempted to for Minocqua with this upgrade. Every install new equipment a few weeks ago person that talked to us representing that they felt did not meet the terms of the your company said we would get LTE, agreement they approved with the now youre coming to us and saying company. The town would not allow them they misspoke, so sorry, we cant give to install the equipment because of that you that despite your company agreed to do so. discrepancy. According to board Chairman Mark Minocqua town chairman Hartzheim, the town had agreed to allow the installation of 4G-LTE technology, but instead the company was attempting to install equipment that would provide 4G speed, but not up to the capabilities the town had been led to believe would be installed. Robyn Gruner, director of AT&T external affairs and JC Mayfield, site acquisition manager for AT&T, both said that since the company began talking to Minocqua officials about the upgrade it was never their intention to provide LTEtechnology at
Mark Hartzheim

this time.

Email from company Hartzheim said he has email communications from company representatives that states 4G LTE would be installed in Minocqua, despite Mayfield and Gruners claims the company never intended to install the LTE service now in Minocqua. A consent letter from AT&T said they would install 4G LTE, Hartzheim said. There is a trail of people representing AT&T saying they would get 4G LTE for Minocqua with this upgrade. Every person that talked to us representing your company said we would get LTE, now youre coming to us and saying they misspoke, so sorry, we cant give you that despite your company agreed to do so. Hartzheim said the town is also left in a difficult position because of AT&Ts failure to provide the technology they had agreed to. We have been telling people that we will have the latest technology and now we wont. That doesnt make us look good and it will disappoint visitors to our area, Hartzheim said. At several times during the discussion representatives on both sides raised their voices and talked for extended periods over the comments of those from the other side. Hartzheim and other town officials continued to argue that because the town had been told differently by representatives of AT&T that the company was bound by what they had been told and by what was in the signed agreement. Gruner and Mayfield both apologized repeatedly for the town being misled, but said those people gave incorrect information and AT&T could not provide that service now. We will bring 4G speeds without LTE now, but we cant bring LTE technology now, Gruner said. Eventually providing LTE is a long-term goal, but we cant say when. AT&T has no desire to leave any community behind the times in terms of service.

Not what they anticipated

Hartzheim said the towns broadband business development committee has suggested the town use whatever leverage it can to do whatever is necessary to get the latest technology in the town. Everybody that represented you up until 15 to 20 days ago said we would get 4G LTE service, Hartzheim said. Its not what we bargained for. Hartzheim suggested the town receive some form of additional compensation from AT&T because they are not delivering what was originally anticipated. Gruner and Mayfield both said there would be no additional compensation to the town. Gruner said the companys progress on infrastructure and technology upgrades is standing still in Minocqua because of the disagreement with the town. We are at the point where we have to have this upgrade, Gruner said. With this upgrade the service will be considerably better, Gruner said. We cant provide LTE now, but we need to have this step done to provide LTE service later.

Wont give timetable When pressed for a time in which both Gruner and Mayfield felt the equipment for the currently-proposed upgrade could be installed, they said they couldnt answer that question. We cant give you a timetable for LTE because it would give away trade information, Mayfield said. We just cant roll it out all over the country at once. We cant give out proprietary information about our company strategy. Let us put this in now so we have the backbone in place for LTE. This is the most current technology they can provide at this time. You lied to us, town supervisor John Thompson said. We dont want to see those people again, Jennings said, meaning those who kept telling the town they would be receiving 4G LTE technology. Our intention is to have you lit by the first of September, Mayfield said. We had intended to have it turned on by May 1. If you give me permission today I will try to have it lit by Oct. 1. If not, I will be back in 90 days to explain why. Not to let them complete this upgrade would not be a smart thing to do, Jennings


Motion made After considerably more discussion, the board approved a motion to agree to allow the AT&T request to upgrade to 4G HSP. The approval is contingent, however, on a statement in writing from AT&T saying the town will receive the upgrade being proposed for service by Oct. 1 or the company will have to come back for an extention of the consent agreement. At that time they would also have to explain why the 90-day deadline was not met. The vote to allow the upgrade was 4-1, with Hartzheim casting the only dissenting vote. He said he voted no because he feels the town deserves some kind of extra compensation because AT&T misrepresented this.