The Massachusetts Municipal Association, the Conservation Law Foundation, and the Massachusetts Wireless Industry Coalition comprise the Massachusetts Municipal-Industry Wireless Collaborative ("Collaborative"). Over the past several years, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation ("OCABR") has worked closely with this group to find innovative solutions to allow wireless carriers to continue the development of networks across the Commonwealth while still allowing municipalities to retain control of important local land use decisions.

The current Collaborative consists of three active committees: the Steering Committee, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Sub-committee, and the Regional Siting Sub-committee. Each committee is comprised of representatives from municipalities, the wireless telecommunications industry, and various government agencies such as the Massachusetts Highway Department ("MHD"), the Division of Capital Asset Management ("DCAM"), the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs ("EOEA"), and the Statewide Emergency Telecommunications Board ("SETB").

In cooperation with the Alternative Dispute Resolution Sub-committee, the OCABR is pleased to provide a non-binding mediation program to ease tensions and assist municipalities and wireless carriers in resolving siting disputes. The voluntary program is cost effective and a less time consuming alternative to lengthy and costly litigation. This unique state program will be offered at no cost to taxpayers and is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.

The Regional Siting Sub-committee is working in a proactive manner with local planners and wireless carriers to gather information regarding current wireless facility tower locations on a regional basis for the purpose of discussing and strategizing possible future tower locations in anticipation of the local permitting process. The MHD has been extremely helpful with the effort to help identify potential site locations on state-owned property as an alternative. If the parties cannot agree on a potential future site, they may consider the voluntary mediation program administered by OCABR following a denial at the local permitting level.

The constant demand for wireless technology creates a growing need for municipalities and wireless carriers to strive toward adequate solutions. The Collaborative and the OCABR appreciate the opportunity to assist local leaders and wireless carriers in reaching viable solutions to meet the challenges of the future.

Beth Lindstrom,

Director
Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation