Thursday, September 26, 2013

FCC Reviews Wireless Infrastructure Policies for Small Cells and DAS

The FCC will undertake a review of its wireless infrastructure policies with a goal to reduce obstacles to obtaining access to rights-of-way and locations for wireless facilities.

Specifically, the FCC is seeking comment on:

  • Streamlining the environmental and historic preservation review processes for newer technologies, including small cells and distributed antenna systems;

  • Removing barriers to the deployment of temporary towers, that are used in cases of emergencies or to add capacity during short term events;
  • The meaning of terms included in a provision of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 which states "a State or local government may not deny, and shall approve, any eligible facilities request for a modification of an existing wireless tower or base station that does not substantially change the physical dimensions of such tower or base station;" and
  • Clarification of issues addressed in the Commission's "shot clock" order which set time periods for state and local governments to complete review of wireless siting applications. 

The FCC said increasing certainty in its processes and removing barriers to infrastructure deployment will spur public and private investment, while expanding wireless coverage and capacity.

FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon L. Clyburn stated: "Today, we seek comment on how we can change our processes to encourage greater deployment of new technologies such as small cells and Distributed Antenna Systems. These innovative solutions multiply wireless capacity within existing spectrum resources and can be deployed relatively easily and inexpensively by consumers, enterprise users, and service providers. These newer technologies can be deployed on utility poles, street lamps, water towers, or rooftops -- a big reason why they are becoming more common. The time is ripe for the Commission to look at updating our rules for these new technologies."