Sens. Seek Limit on Cities’ Small Cell Review; NLC ‘Disappointed’

Commerce Committee Chair U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD), and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), ranking member of the committee’s Communications subcommittee, introduced a bill last week aimed at speeding small cell deployment by setting shot clocks for localities’ and states to approve siting applications. Telecom and tower industry associations praise the measure, while those representing cities do not.

If passed, S. 3157, the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act, directs states and localities to process small cell siting applications within 90 days (and within 60 days for co-locations). Flexibility is afforded to municipalities with fewer than 50,000 residents and the FCC can also issue 30-day waivers in certain cases. Thune and Schatz say the measure affirms the rights of states and localities to make decisions based on “transparent, objective and reasonable criteria.”

Thune told Politico, trying to achieve the right balance between the needs of industry and municipalities was “probably the hardest part” of negotiating the bill text. He hopes to schedule a hearing on the measure this month. The National League of Cities said it is “disappointed” the committee didn’t fully address its concerns about local preemption. Also, “imposing a new federal one-size-fits-all mandate for small cell deployments won’t work for all cities,” stated League Spokesman Tom Martin.

Meanwhile, the Wireless Infrastructure Association, CTIA and the Competitive Carriers Association praised the measure. WIA stated: “The STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act includes several provisions that will expedite the siting of small wireless facilities,” while CTIA added: “This legislation will help America win the global 5G race by accelerating deployment of next-generation wireless infrastructure while preserving local authority.” And CCA stated: “Small cells are not just for big cities, and this legislation will reduce barriers to broadband infrastructure deployment in rural areas as well as provide for the latest technologies to densify next generation networks.”

July 5, 2018

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