CTIA Supports Small Cell Siting Rule Upgrade

CTIA-the Wireless Association, is all for the FCC’s planned vote next week to streamline siting regulations for small cells to advance 5G deployment. Part of what the agency plans to do is eliminate federal environmental and historic preservation reviews to site wireless infrastructure for small cells that are not on Tribal land or reservations, Inside Towers reported.

In an OpEd published in The Hill, CTIA President/CEO Meredith Attwell Baker says such a move could free-up, up to $1.6 billion in network deployment. Rather than coming from taxpayers, Accenture said the money would come from cost-savings, as a result of the streamlined small cell rules.

Small cell deployment for 5G means wireless carriers will need to install hundreds of thousands of small antennas close together. “[B]ut many rules and regulations for infrastructure are decades old, put in place when 200-foot tall towers were the norm,” states the former FCC Commissioner.  

The “outdated” rules make small cell siting take longer and cost more, asserts Attwell Baker. For example, a small cell can take an hour to install and one provider estimated that environmental and historical review compliance costs exceeded $23 million in the last two years — a figure that will only increase as more small cells are deployed.

The U.S. leads the world in 4G deployment, according to the executive. Easing small cell deployment is key, she writes, so the U.S. can lead in 5G as well. Other countries, like South Korea and China are moving aggressively to designate spectrum for 5G, Inside Towers reported.

Attwell Baker writes that Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri last week called it “a neck and neck race between the U.S. and China to see who will be the first to deploy.” That’s why “common-sense” infrastructure reforms like the FCC proposal are “critical and timely,” she writes.  

March 13, 2018      


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