Industry Praises Small Cell Siting Order; Some Munis Say It Ties Their Hands


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The wireless, towerco and associated industries praised yesterday’s FCC vote to ease small cell siting at the local level. Some localities agree that change is needed to lower costs and further 5G deployment. But many don’t, as Inside Towers reported. In fact, during the vote, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr referred to a cottage industry of litigation over siting issues, fueled by “tons of consultants.” The order, Carr said, “ends the uncertainty” over the FCC’s rules, “inspiring much of that litigation.”

The National Association of Tower Erectors called the action significant because, among other things, it provides guidance on certain state and local non-fee requirements including aesthetic and undergrounding requirements and establishes and codifies two new shot clocks for small wireless facilities (60 days for co-location on pre-existing structures and 90 days for new builds).

NATE Board member Jimmy Miller from Gulfport, MS said: “NATE member companies continue to be instrumental on the front lines deploying the small cells and related wireless infrastructure” and the FCC action provides a consistent framework and roadmap for both industry and state and local governments to adhere to.” 

Wireless Infrastructure Association President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein said the order “clarifies” the role of state and local governments to make the process of siting wireless infrastructure faster and more efficient. He agrees with Commissioner Michael O’Rielly that macro towers “play a key role in wireless networks. That role will expand in 5G.”

CTIA President/CEO Meredith Attwell Baker noted: “With the first commercial launch of 5G in the U.S. just days away, this decision will promote billions in investment and significant job creation.”

However, Next Century Cities, a non-profit founded to support communities as they seek access to fast and affordable internet access, said the order strengthens the hand of carriers in negotiations over small cell deployment at the expense of local decision making. “Local leaders want this technology that will improve quality of life for their constituents. However, this order puts a foot on the scale for industry, and limits community capacity to serve the public interest,” said Next Century Cities Executive Director Deb Socia. “Mutually beneficial agreements will only happen when local governments can come to the table without their hands tied behind their backs.”

September 27, 2018