FCC Seeks Faster Small Cell Deployments, Lower Fees

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The FCC plans to vote later this month to update its guidance for states and localities for wireless infrastructure siting. The agency yesterday circulated among the commissioners for a vote, a proposal that “re-affirms local control,” said Commissioner Brendan Carr in Indianapolis yesterday. He, along with several leaders from the Hoosier state, spoke from the Statehouse about the proposal.

Carr said the proposal “takes a balanced approach” to the small cell siting process and “won’t disturb nearly any of the provisions” of the small cell bills passed in 20 states. “Providers should bear the costs of building 5G, not local governments,” said Carr. Adding that “excessive fees” slow down deployments, he said the agency has “proposed that fees that must reasonably approximate local costs.”

The proposal, to be made public today, tailors shorter shot clocks to account for the size and scale of small cells (as opposed to the current longer timelines for macro towers). That means in most cases, localities have 60 days to approve or reject a permit to attach a small cell to an existing structure and 90 days if a new pole is needed. “We do not propose a deemed granted remedy,” he said, and it preserves local governments’ “reasonable” aesthetic and historic reviews.  

Indianapolis has been named a 5G test bed by both AT&T and Verizon, making the city “number one in the country for intensive 5G investment,” said Carr. A year ago, the state enacted a law to ease small cell siting. One year later, wireless providers have deployed 1,000 small cells in 30 Indiana cities, according to the Commissioner.

Several trade associations were pleased with the action. See the industry reaction here.  

September 5, 2018