The METRO Authority was created in November 2002 as a result of PA 48 of 2002 (Metropolitan Extension Telecommunications Rights-of-Way Oversight Act).with the purpose of streamlining the right-of-way permitting processes between municipalities and telecommunication providers. Historically, providers who were expanding their services into or within municipalities approached each municipality and completed whatever process these municipalities required. Municipalities were not required to have a standard permitting process or fee structure.
PA 48 is the result of a collaborative agreement between municipalities and providers. The Act allows the METRO Authority, on behalf of municipalities, to recover the costs of such rights-of-way use by the providers. It gives the METRO Authority the responsibilities to coordinate public right-of-way matters with municipalities, to assess fees on telecommunication providers with facilities in public rights-of-way within a municipality in a metropolitan area, and to make payments to municipalities that have "opted in". Currently, 100% of fees assessed on providers are paid out to municipalities. In 2009, fees invoiced and collected from providers exceeded $21 million.
The purpose of the act is to:
- Encourage competition in the availability, prices, terms, and other conditions of providing telecommunication services
- Encourage the introduction of new services, the entry of new providers, the development of new technologies, and increase investment in the telecommunication infrastructure in Michigan
- Improve the opportunities for economic development and the delivery of telecommunication services
- Streamline the process for authorizing access to and use of public rights-of-way by telecommunication providers
- Ensure the reasonable control and management of public rights-of-way by municipalities within Michigan
- Provide for a common public rights-of-way maintenance fee applicable to telecommunication providers
- Ensure effective review and disposition of disputes under the act
- Allow for a tax credit for providers to recover the costs under the act (and ensure that providers do not pass costs on to end-users through rates and charges for telecommunication services)
- Create an authority (METRO) to coordinate public right-of-way matters with municipalities