Cities and Munis Seek Change of Venue For FCC Small Cell Ruling


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The City of San Jose, along with fellow cities and municipalities in western states, filed a petition last week to move their court case against carriers over the FCC’s September ruling to deregulate small cell deployment.  

The San Jose Petitioners, one of six groups seeking review of the FCC order entitled “Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment,” want the case transferred from Denver to San Francisco. San Jose, et al, are challenging the agency’s decision to limit how much munis can charge to attach small cells to streetlight poles and other infrastructure in public right-of-ways. The decision also sets limits on how long munis can take to make a decision on a small cell application. The FCC ruling is due to take effect in January.

Denver is currently where appeals are heard when multiple actions are filed in various appellate courts against the Commission. The Denver location was picked by lottery as the central location to hear the filings by municipalities challenging the FCC’s ruling. The petitioners hope to move the venue to the San Francisco court, part of the Ninth Circuit Court’s jurisdiction, which has, in the past, provided more narrow interpretations of federal telecom law, according to a blog post by analyst Steve Blum of Tellus Venture Associates.

AT&T, Sprint and Puerto Rico Telephone Company are being challenged by over 26 entities including the cities of Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Jose, Portland, Seattle along with Los Angeles County and the League of Cities for, California, Oregon and Arizona.

Inside Towers recently reported on the relatively high rates the City of San Jose was charging infrastructure developers. While other cities around the country were asking from $50 to $100 per site, San Jose had a per pole price tag closer to $3,500.  

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December 4, 2018