As the FCC continues its work to ease siting for small cell infrastructure, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr believes the agency will see support from mayors and other officials in local municipalities. No decision has been made on timing, Carr said during an appearance at the Brookings Institute on Tuesday.
Nicol Turner-Lee, a fellow in the program’s Center for Technology Innovation, moderated the panel discussion. She asked how cities will permit so-called “pizza box” size small cell antennas on utility or light poles. Carr said in big cities, 5G deployment will happen “regardless of what we do.” But in rural America, it will require a partnership comprised of federal, state, and local governments. “It’s about making sure every community gets a fair shot at 5G,” he said, adding that 20 states have adopted bills to ease small cell siting in public rights-of-way.
Explaining the FCC’s siting rules were created for tall towers, Carr said 85 percent of 5G deployment will require small cells. “More wired infrastructure is needed to connect all those new antennas.” Updating those rules requires “a lot of work. We’ve been systematically looking at that.”
And while local officials will always have an important role in siting, Carr said privately-deployed shared infrastructure is an option the agency is seeing more of. During a recent visit to Sioux City, Iowa, he toured Sabre Industries, which manufactures towers, poles and antennas. He cited a “smart stack” utility pole that several carriers can share.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside TowersWashington Bureau Chief