EDITORIAL: Clark County ponders much higher fees on wireless companies

Clark County is on the verge of jacking up the fees it charges to wireless carriers to install their equipment on public light poles. The increase could be as high as a whopping 450 percent.

In order to ensure cellular service and expand network capacity, companies such as Verizon and Sprint place low-powered devices on street lights. They currently pay as much as $700 a year for each device.

But a consulting firm working with the county to develop a “broadband wireless master plan” — isn’t the government bureaucracy wonderful? — has recommended increasing the fees in order to raise money for the installation of additional underground fiber optic cable.

The new charges could be as high as $3,960 per pole and generate $2 million annually.

“These rates are comparable to what the carriers are paying in other cities,” said Mike Harwell, the county’s assistant manager of business license operations, “so they shouldn’t be shocked.”

He’s right, in part. Who could ever be shocked by a government proposal to nickel and dime those operating in the private sector (see editorial above)?

Mr. Harwell went on to imply that the massive price hike won’t be a deterrent to wireless carriers. Well, maybe. But before reaching that conclusion, county officials might want to sit down and discuss the situation further with the relevant actors, rather than arrogantly dismissing their concerns.

Indeed, a Verizon spokeswoman wrote in an email that county’s plan was “excessive and cost-prohibitive” and could be a “significant impediment” to adding 5G technology.

It’s also worth noting that the higher costs will no doubt be passed on to local consumers, just like the dozens of other small taxes and fees that lard up every utility invoice. It may come as a shock to Mr. Harwell, but corporations don’t pay taxes. They simply collect them.

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