April 4, 2017 –
In its open meeting later this month, the FCC will vote on opening a comprehensive evaluation of how to expedite local reviews of wireless deployment. The proceeding will expand far beyond the Public Notice released last December by then-FCC Chairman Wheeler, “Streamlining Deployment of Small Cell Infrastructure by Improving Wireless Facilities Siting Policies,” which chiefly looked at small cell applications in rights of way and the fees charged from them.
The new proceeding, “Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment,” if adopted, would request comments about a broader range of issues surrounding state and local review of wireless infrastructure. It will ask about time limits for local review and whether a “deemed granted” remedy should be used where applications are being held up. The impact of moratoria, National Historic Preservation act and National Environmental Policy Act on wireless infrastructure applications will also be considered.
The small cells declaratory ruling proceeding, adopted on December 22, 2016, will now run in parallel with the Accelerating Wireless Broadband proceeding, which Ajit Pai is pushing a mere two months into his tenure FCC Chairman.
As to why the Accelerating Wireless proceeding was launched before the Small Cells proceeding even concluded, some questioned whether Chairman Pai was rushing to implement his agenda while the Commission still only has three members. But it may have more to do with his leadership style.
Chairman Pai has declared April “Infrastructure Month” at the FCC and the Commission will vote on proposals for wired infrastructure, business data services, three media items, as well as the Accelerating Wireless proceeding.
“To bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans, the FCC needs to make it easier for companies to build and expand broadband networks. We need to reduce the cost of broadband deployment, and we need to eliminate unnecessary rules that slow down or deter deployment,” Chairman Pai wrote in his blog.