FCC Begins Working on Macro Tower Siting Reprieve


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When the FCC voted to ease small cell siting last week, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said he wished the agency could smooth the way to site macro towers, too. He said there needs to be a recognition that macro towers will continue to play a crucial role in wireless networks. It appears the agency is working on that.

As part of last week’s 5G meeting at the White House, Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein told Inside Towers, that Commissioner Brendan Carr confirmed the FCC activity on macro towers. Specifically, the need for “compound expansion relief” was discussed. “We’ve made a concerted campaign to ask the FCC” for this kind of assistance, Adelstein said in an interview, “and we are getting traction.”

WIA recently urged the Commission to harmonize the differing rules that apply to compound expansions. The association recently explained that construction of a replacement structure that does not substantially increase the tower height nor expand the boundaries of the leased or owned property surrounding the tower by more than thirty feet, is excluded from review. However, any site expansion to accommodate additional equipment to co-locate a new antenna or transmission equipment, still requires a full review, even if the expansion is as little as one foot. WIA says the requirement is expensive, time-consuming, and could slow 5G rollout as compound expansions are needed for data centers at the edge.

O’Rielly said it doesn’t make sense to treat these situations differently. He added the Commission needs to finish its review of the twilight towers proceeding, revise the rules and submit those to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation for review and vote. These towers are eligible, yet not permitted, to hold an estimated 6,500 co-locations that will be needed for next-generation services and FirstNet.

WIA and CTIA indicated at Friday’s meeting, the issue needs to be addressed, according to Adelstein.  

by Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

October 2, 2018