Council instructs wireless providers to work out differences
The De Soto City Council members found themselves in the middle last Thursday as the uncomfortable arbitrators of a dispute involving two wireless Internet providers.
The issue was brought to the council by Kameron Klein of Radius Broadband, the owner of one of two Internet providers with equipment on city watertowers. That company and Kansas Broadband provide wireless service to customers south of Kansas Highway 10 and in east De Soto who do not have access to high speed land lines and to those north of the Kansas River in Leavenworth County.
Klein, whose company has equipment on the Waverly water tower, said Kansas Broadband was using frequencies on ITS equipment installed on city watertowers that caused interference and disruption of service to customers of both providers. Moreover, Klein said Kansas Broadband’s use of the frequencies was a violation of its lease agreement with the city, which lists the frequencies both companies can use in an attempt to avoid interference problems.
Klein said he regretted bringing the dispute to the city council, but said Kansas Broadband was not responsive to his attempts to resolve the dispute.
“I’ve worked with competitors elsewhere with no problem,” he said. “We have worked really hard to work well with competitors because we could cause each other problems.”
Klein, a De Soto resident, said his local reputation was important to him and he paid his bills on time — an offhand reference to Kansas Broadband’s late lease payment to the city.
In correspondence City Attorney Patrick Reavey told the council Larry Miller of Kansas Broadband denied using frequencies that would have violated the lease.
At the council meeting, however, Miller said his company had used the frequencies on the downtown watertower, but said it was his understanding the lease restrictions only applied to the Waverly tower.
Miller added that the FCC didn’t license the frequencies and that all were free to use them. Interference problems were common, he said.
The overdue lease payment, which was paid Thursday, was the result of a bookkeeping error, Miller said.
Miller said his company would be removing his equipment from the Waverly watertower in November and placing them on the nearby monopole.
The FCC might not license the frequencies, but their use were clearly restricted in Kansas Broadband’s lease agreement with the city, Reavey said in response.
After Councilwoman Mitra Templin suggested Klein and Miller be given a week to resolve the dispute, Mayor Dave Anderson told Miller should that not happen his company’s equipment would be ordered removed from the towers for violations of the lease.
Earlier this year, the city entered into an agreement with Selected Site Consultants to build a monopole at the Waverly watertower site, which allows the city to collect annual lease payments from the pole from Selected Site Consultants that nearly equals the $50,000 the earned from leasing space on the watertower. The new arrangement gives Selected Site Consultant the responsibility of regulating its pole and its leases.
Reavey said the city’s agreement with Selected Site Consultants didn’t include any measures concerning frequency restrictions.
Klein said he feared that meant Kansas Broadband would be free to use the frequencies that would cause interference.
Reavey said he thought Selected Site Consultants would be open to the same restrictions the city required, and Anderson added that the two companies had an interest in working together to provide quality service and avoid bad publicity.