NTCA Pushes for Fiber Backhaul to Be Covered in FCC Small Cell Siting Plan

NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, believes the FCC’s got it right when it comes to controlling costs charged by municipalities for wireless facility siting. The association suggests the agency’s proposal to further lift barriers to small cell siting covers wireline too.    

Representatives of NTCA met with staffers from the offices of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Brendan Carr this week about the proposal. ntca, ntca pushes for fiber backhaul to be covered in fcc small cell siting, cell tower news, tower news, tower information, cell tower information, wireless tower news, wireless tower information, wireless information, wireless news, tower newsletter, cell tower newsletterNTCA indicated support for efforts to address barriers presented by what they consider excessive rates and fees for access to public rights-of-way.

“Deploying upgraded broadband capabilities to households and businesses in the areas served by [rural local exchange carriers] already requires these providers to overcome low population densities, challenging geographic terrain, and short building/construction seasons. Adding in excessive fees beyond those reasonably necessary to recoup costs can drive up even further the costs for deployment and/or upgrading of existing facilities, to the detriment of the consumers in need of better broadband (or any broadband access at all),” writes NTCA lobbyist Michael Romano in a filing. 

The FCC proposal calls for local permitting/siting fees to be cost-based. NTCA believes those should be costs incurred by localities for reviewing applications, issuing permits and performing physical site inspections both before and after facilities installation. Also covered, should be muni’s costs for constructing, repairing or maintaining government-owned facilities used or disturbed by the installation of broadband related facilities, and for closing off streets and traffic control during installation or similar expenses that can be directly traced to a provider’s ROW use.

NTCA believes the proposal should apply wireline network equipment too, because 5G will rest on a foundation of fiber backhaul, especially in rural areas. “Even where licensed spectrum may be available to function as backhaul in some instances, the densification of small cells that will power this new technology will certainly require a densification of fiber not seen before in this nation’s history. In rural areas where potential service locations and users are often much further apart, fiber is therefore the linchpin to effective connectivity,” writes Romano.   

September 14, 2018

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