Reader Opinion: Wireless Should Partner, Not Bulldoze Muni’s Over Siting

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This section allows others to contribute their opinions. The content does not necessarily represent the views of, or endorsement by Inside Towers.

Robert Stapleton, CEO of towerco National Wireless Ventures, wrote to us in response to our items (here and here) last week on the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee struggles over wireless infrastructure siting and permitting fees. Here, the 30-year industry representative who’s also a past president of the Illinois Wireless Association, gives readers insight into how municipalities view those fees.  

  1. Zoning and land use are principal tools communities have to deal with the balance between the business community needs and for the health, safety and welfare of the residential community. It’s there for a reason, to protect both sides from confrontational developments.   
  2. Giving one segment of the business community a right over all other segments of the community is fundamentally wrong. It’s one thing if the utilities were the primary focus or applicants, but that’s not the case. 

    No one should be able to hold the public Right-of-Way (ROW) hostage. Negotiate the right to use the ROW. The ROWs in this country are for the health, safety and welfare of all of the public. They are there for gas, electric, water, telephone, traffic control, cable etc. The use is granted through some form of municipal franchise agreement.

  1. I look at the Highway Beautification Act, which promulgated rules and regulations relating to the placement of signage adjacent to the national highway system. It created a plan, but the one thing it did not do was preempt local control. It established a national policy, however it still placed the regulation process to the states and down to local government. In doing so, it created a partnership and a plan for a future. That future has been profitable for the outdoor advertising industry.
  2. The push to bypass local control will damage this industry’s credibility and reverse a lot of the positive movement this industry has achieved. When we push the communities to accept some of the installations on a communities’ ROW we should question if that would be something we would want in our front yards.
  3. The technology advances that come from this country have been great. At the same time, those technological advances have come with rules and balance. So this industry needs to work within a give and take atmosphere. We need to be partners with our communities and not adversaries. In the final analysis, the wireless industry should be a partner not a predator. We just need to work harder and smarter.

By Robert Stapleton, CEO, National Wireless Ventures

January 30, 2018

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