Appeals Court Backs FCC on Tower Siting

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In what could be seen as a landmark decision that could effectively speed the decision-making process for approving tower construction in America, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Friday agreed with the FCC’s directive to deploy wireless facilities by preventing intervention by local authorities.

Although the FCC rule had won the support of CTIA and PCIA-The Wireless Infrastructure Association, Montgomery County, MD and other counties in March filed suit against the FCC to prevent the commission from carrying out its order and call the new tower siting rule unconstitutional, arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion and otherwise illegal,” reported John Eggerton in Broadcasting & Cable.

The FCC, which has been an unabashed supporter of the national build-out of the wireless infrastructure, voted unanimously in October 2014 to make it easier to deploy wireless infrastructure.

Former FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, now president and CEO of PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association, said Friday following the ruling that the FCC was within its legal authority to interpret legal terms designed to streamline deployment of wireless broadband.

“We are thrilled with the outcome of this case because it will promote the widespread deployment of mobile broadband in Montgomery County and other communities around the country. The wireless infrastructure industry wants to reduce or eliminate, whenever possible, unreasonable obstacles to all communities tapping into the extraordinary economic and technological potential of wireless broadband. We were proud to partner with CTIA to make this victory possible.  We look forward to our continued work with municipalities to meet their constituents’ growing demand for wireless data. PCIA has strongly supported the Infrastructure Order and its guidelines for implementation, and congratulate the FCC on this important win in its laudable efforts aimed at increasing broadband deployment.”

The CTIA was also “pleased by the court’s decision.” It added, “From Congress to the FCC to local governments, policymakers recognize the vital role that government can and should play in expediting the deployment of broadband networks.” The group said it  is “proud to have partnered with municipal representatives to educate local jurisdictions about streamlined siting processes, and to have developed a model ordinance and checklist for use by local zoning authorities.” CTIA said it believes that the court’s decision “will bring greater certainty and uniformity to broadband permitting decisions, bolstering the economic and social benefits that broadband brings to communities across the nation.”

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