AT&T bringing new technology to Kent

William Schertz

AT&T may be one step closer to forming an agreement with the city of Kent to usher Project Lightspeed into the Kent community.

Kent Law Director James Silver said the problem is AT&T may have to build large power boxes in residents’ front yards to do it.

Following a presentation by AT&T representative Margaret Williams, the Streets, Sidewalks & Utilities Committee members biggest concern was the power boxes the company would have to install in various places throughout Kent.

The power boxes, also referred to as cabinets, are 63 inches high, 44 inches across and 20 inches deep. They would be placed at various points in the city, possibly in front of residential properties.

“It’s a no-brainer other than the real reason we’re here, which is these boxes,” said Silver.

The purpose of Project Lightspeed is to bring high-speed technology to the Kent area in the form of Internet Protocol networking that would connect phone services, television and Internet, which will travel to residents’ homes via fiber lines.

The agreement would also require AT&T to pay the city 5 percent of its profit from television revenue.

The cabinets will act as a conduit to transfer information from the fiber lines to the pre-existing copper wires that will carry it the final distance to a resident’s home.

The committee was concerned that residents would not want these cabinets in front of their homes.

“To be point blank, they’re ugly,” city councilwoman Carrie Gavriloff said.

Gavriloff asked if AT&T would be able to make the boxes more aesthetically pleasing.

Silver said there might be opportunities for landscaping in some areas to improve the appearance around the cabinets, but the city cannot make AT&T address the issue.

As of now, AT&T has spent $4.6 billion across 13 states during a three-year period, said Caryn Candisky, director of public affairs and media relations for the company.

City council will vote on establishing an agreement with AT&T next week, but Silver said they most likely will not vote it down due to Federal Communications Commission laws that say cities must allow a competitive environment for businesses.

Silver said if council voted against the agreement, AT&T could take them to court, and they would have to allow the company into the city.

Several other issues were also discussed at the committee meeting -ÿincluding a report from the city engineer on citywide traffic and plans for signal improvements and a discussion on the relocation of Kent’s yard waste transfer site.

Contact public affairs reporter William Schertz at [email protected].