Munis Say They’re Not to Blame for Slow Small Cell Deployment


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Wilton Manors, FL Mayor Gary Resnick testifies before Congress last week.

It’s not our fault if carriers can’t deploy next-generation wireless infrastructure, the mayors of 36 cities and municipal government leaders are telling the FCC.

They feel some Commissioners are casting local governments “as scapegoats” and as a barrier to small cell deployment and the use of public rights-of-way, they said in a letter to all five Commissioners. The letter from Next Century Cities comes just days before the agency is set to vote on easing some regulations for infrastructure siting.

They say the FCC should be focused on “encouraging” investment in better networks rather than on limiting local authority. The local officials also push back against allegations that city governments are slowing wireline and wireless investment and refute the claims by some carriers, that local governments charge excessive siting or pole attachment fees.

“It’s ridiculous to claim that our cities are seeking a ‘bounty,’ or the delay of deployments that are important for our citizens. In fact, our communities strongly desire more options for high quality internet access and we are happy to work collaboratively with any ISPs that are willing to provide such opportunities,” they state. “However, our residents and businesses appropriately balk at the placement of a 100-foot monopole on their lawn with no recourse, or to having their local government’s hands tied when it comes to the public recovering just compensation for the use of the public’s right-of-way.”

The 36 government officials who signed the letter, include San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who recently resigned from the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) over concerns that it’s dominated by industry representatives, Inside Towers reported. Wilton Manors, FL Mayor Gary Resnick also signed the letter. He shares the concerns about the BDAC and told members of the Senate Commerce Committee last week that, “localities are being asked to subsidize small cell infrastructure for 5G.” As for taking those concerns to the BDAC, he said the group “does not work.”

“We do not feel the FCC is serious about engaging local governments,” Resnick said. He told lawmakers anything Congress can do to help the situation “is appreciated.”

The signatories of the Next Century Cities letter told the Commissioners they look forward to playing a larger role in the agency discussions of these issues moving forward.  

By Leslie Stimson, Washington Bureau Chief, Inside Towers

March 19, 2018      

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