Environmental Compliance Program Support to AT&T Wireless Network
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AT&T operates one of the largest wireless communications networks in the United States. With explosive growth in the highly competitive personal telecommunications market, as well as new technology demands, AT&T's ongoing challenge has been to identify and construct new telecommunications facilities on a very ambitious schedule, all the while minimizing environmental risk and ensuring compliance with the Federal Communications Commission's environmental obligation under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). AT&T's business model typically involves building out a particular geographic market within about a one year timeframe, including conducting all required compliance, engineering, and development-related services.

Geosyntec's Scope of Services

Geosyntec understood that AT&T's driving goal was to quickly identify and build new sites to keep up with customer demand. The critical path elements were site acquisition (leasing), environmental and geotechnical services, and constructability analyses, all resulting in a "green sheet" that allows the location to become a network site. Since 1998, Geosyntec has been part of AT&T's core site development team, working with site acquisition, engineering, and construction specialists to help AT&T aggressively build out new network sites.

Geosyntec has supported the "green sheet" process by providing environmental and geotechnical services for over 600 sites throughout Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. At times during this period, Geosyntec often was requested to commence Phase I ESA and NEPA services on up to 30 sites per month. Working with AT&T's site development team, Geosyntec provided a broad suite of services, including traditional ASTM Phase I ESAs, geotechnical evaluations, as well as the various FCC-required NEPA services related to natural and cultural resources. AT&T's broad market coverage has placed Geosyntec at diverse locales, ranging from heavy industrial sites in urban centers to largely residential communities. For some sites, Geosyntec provided additional expertise related to asbestos-containing materials, lead-based paint, Phase II ESAs (to help evaluate the presence/absence of contamination), risk management evaluations and recommendations, and remedy development. As part of the AT&T team, Geosyntec managed its work to meet aggressive schedules (about two weeks for Phase I ESAs) and worked hand-in-hand with AT&T's integration contractor to provide real-time site-by-site updates, to identify potential delay issue flags such as agency concerns and potential contamination and natural resources concerns, and to address those matters directly impacting the project's critical path.

Notable Accomplishments

Geosyntec's technical expertise, regulatory compliance experience, and collaborative project management approach has assisted AT&T in achieving their build-out goals. For example, in October 2003, Geosyntec began providing support to AT&T in Mississippi and Alabama. This build-out was substantially complete by January 2004. In July 2004, AT&T announced that their new GSM (Global Systems for Mobile Communications) networks in both states were complete and fully operational in an accelerated build-out, thereby, providing AT&T customers with the latest personal telecommunications technology in less than one year - start to finish.

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Project Summary

  • Location: Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi, USA
  • Client: AT&T formerly Cingular Wireless
  • Project Practice Areas: Environmental Management
  • Type of Facility: Communications Tower Sites
  • Services Provided: Environmental Due Diligence (Phase I and II ESAs); Geotechnical Engineering; Asbestos and Lead Surveys; NEPA Assessments; Wildlife and Wetland Studies; Information Management
  • Type of Work: Due Diligence
  • Governing Regulation: National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)