Tuesday, June 9, 2020

FCC acts to streamline 5G upgrades by limiting local review

The FCC is clarifying rules regarding state and local government review of modifications to existing wireless infrastructure.  The action is expected to expedite the rollout of 5G networks by limiting state and local government review of certain requests to modify wireless transmission equipment on existing structures.

Specifically, the Declaratory Ruling adopted today clarifies the Commission’s 2014 rules with regard to when the 60-day shot clock for local review begins.  The ruling also clarifies how certain aspects of proposed modifications – height increases, equipment cabinet additions, and impact on concealment elements and aesthetic conditions – affect eligibility for streamlined review under section 6409(a).  In addition, today’s action clarifies that, under the Commission’s rules on environmental and historic preservation review,  FCC applicants do not need to submit environmental assessments based only on potential impacts to historic properties when parties have entered into a memorandum of agreement to mitigate effects on those properties. 

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai states: "Promoting American leadership in 5G wireless technology has been one of my top priorities since becoming Chairman.  To that end, the FCC has been executing my 5G FAST plan, which includes three key components: pushing more spectrum into the marketplace, making it easier to deploy wireless infrastructure, and modernizing outdated regulations to expedite the deployment of fiber for wireless backhaul....Of course, in addition to pushing more spectrum into the marketplace, a key component of the Commission’s 5G FAST strategy has been updating our wireless infrastructure policies to encourage private-sector investment in the physical building blocks of 5G networks.  And today’s Declaratory Ruling and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking does just that."

FCC Commisssioner writes: "If we want to see infrastructure expand broadly and equitably across this country it takes federal and state and local authorities working together to do so.  History proves this is true.  And in these historic times this agency should not be ramrodding this effort through without listening to cities and towns across the country.  They called for a bit more time.  But the Federal Communications Commission hung up.  I dissent."