FCC Says “Nope” to NEPA and “See Ya” to SHPO

The FCC vote yesterday to exempt most small cell infrastructure siting from National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review was contentious. The vote was 3-2 and security removed two protesters from the Commission meeting room during the discussion.

The changes are for small cells not located on Tribal lands. Continue reading


FCC Votes 3-2 To Streamline Small Cell Siting

The FCC today voted to exempt small cell siting from some regulatory reviews in a bid to lower deployment costs and expedite infrastructure build out. The wireless industry supports the change to eliminate the Tribal and environmental review process for small cells in most cases. Though the changes are for small cells not located on Tribal lands, Tribes oppose the changes, saying the agency skirted the review process. The 3-2 vote was contentious. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn wanted to delay the vote until the agency could further assess how the proposal might hurt tribal lands and the environment. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the order won’t address the race to lead in 5G.

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Smart Cities Council Confabs in D.C.

The White House, Congress and the FCC are all pulling together to modernize rules governing the wireless industry — something critically needed as carriers work to densify their networks and work to deploy small cells and eventually 5G.

“Every aspect of government is asking: ‘How can we help?’ said Wireless Infrastructure Association President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein during a joint webinar Wednesday with the Smart Cities Council. “It’s a favorable regulatory climate, but we’re dealing with a lot of problems,” generally referring to rules designed for macro towers but still applied to small cells, for example. Continue reading


FCC’s O’Rielly Calls Out States for Diverting 911 Funds

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly has no patience with states that divert their 911 fees for other uses. He slammed the practice Tuesday during a speech before the Rhode Island E911 Summit in Providence. His colleagues Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and Chairman Ajit Pai have criticized the practice as well. Continue reading


Maryland’s Cities vs. States Battle a Microcosm For U.S.

Lobbying efforts by wireless companies to ease regulations on the installation of 5G equipment is causing friction between local and state leaders. According to The Washington Post, wireless carriers expect to install 300,000 small cell sites across the country, and so far this year, 18 states have proposed zoning law preemptions; since 2016, 13 states have adopted such legislation. Though wireless industry leaders have explained that the demand for better internet service necessitates removing barriers to cell sites’ installation, some local leaders, like Montgomery County Council President Hans Riemer, see the state proposals as “a giveaway to the industry.” Continue reading


Munis Say They’re Not to Blame for Slow Small Cell Deployment

Wilton Manors, FL Mayor Gary Resnick testifies before Congress last week.

It’s not our fault if carriers can’t deploy next-generation wireless infrastructure, the mayors of 36 cities and municipal government leaders are telling the FCC.

They feel some Commissioners are casting local governments “as scapegoats” and as a barrier to small cell deployment and the use of public rights-of-way, they said in a letter to all five Commissioners. The letter from Next Century Cities comes just days before the agency is set to vote on easing some regulations for infrastructure siting. Continue reading


FCC Gets a Look at What They’re Voting On

T-Mobile and Crown Castle representatives showed FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr a thing or two yesterday as they toured selected small cell sites in Baltimore. Touring sites offering small cell solutions, such as the street pole lights Carr was introduced to, has been part of an information gathering effort on the agency’s part prior to voting on streamlining measures next week.

Carr was told although the basic pole, cabinet, metering, antennas and light infrastructure can cost around $30,000, that cost can triple when additional asphalt patching, street shutdowns, sidewalk repair, landscaping and auxiliary building requirements are added to the mix. Continue reading


CCA Wants FCC to Stay AT&T/FiberTower License Transfer

UPDATE The Competitive Carriers Association opposes the transfer of millimeter-wave (“mmW”) spectrum licenses from FiberTower to AT&T Mobility Spectrum LLC. CCA asked the full Commission to stay the decision.

CCA says the agency approved the transaction based on incomplete and flawed public interest analysis, and challenged the Commission to put a hold on its consent order while it reviews the decision of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. Continue reading


Telecom Reps Tell Congress How to Fix FCC’s Broadband Maps

CCA’s Steve Berry (left) and CTIA’s Brad Gillen, holding a small cell, testify before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday.

Wireless industry representatives told lawmakers Tuesday better maps are needed to determine where broadband connectivity exists and where it doesn’t, especially now that Congress is considering effective ways to close the digital divide as part of the President’s infrastructure plan.

The Chairman of the Senate Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), said the current FCC maps showing broadband connectivity are “utterly worthless.” He asked why the data is “so wrong.”

Competitive Carriers Association President/CEO Steve Berry replied: “Garbage in, garbage out.” Carriers told the FCC it should measure signal strength, but that was not part of the data the FCC sought when it revised the maps, he said. Continue reading


Streamlining or Steamrolling? NY Governor Proposes Rules for Small Cells

Last year, when Verizon Wireless submitted 12 small cell applications for a neighborhood near the University of Buffalo, Amherst enacted a moratorium on the construction of new towers and gathered a committee to analyze and revise local zoning regulations. Now those municipality-level regulations may be usurped by state-wide protocol, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has introduced a budget proposal to adopt a uniform, statewide permitting and review process for the installation of small cell nodes, according to a report from The Buffalo News. Local governments and interest groups like the Association of Towns and the New York Conference of Mayors are pushing back, citing state overreach in decisions traditionally made at the local level.   Continue reading


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