The FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee is making progress on its state and municipal model codes for accelerating broadband infrastructure deployment. Both codes, developed by separate working groups, have been reviewed and approved by the committee. Now, during the next couple of months, the two codes will be compared to see if and where they differ.
Douglas Dimitroff of the New York State Wireless Association and chair of municipal working group said additional work needs to be done to harmonize the codes.
“We want to make sure there are no inconsistencies in the state and municipal model codes that could result in a conflict. They should work together,” Dimitroff said. “In our municipal code, we made it very clear that a local jurisdiction must take into account the state’s laws concerning siting.”
The purpose of the municipal code is to serve as an example that all 39,000+ municipalities across the United States use as an example of what they can adopt as a code to streamline broadband.
“We hope that municipalities that are looking for a balanced way to streamline deployment of 5G and other telecom technologies would adopt components of it,” Dimitroff said.
The working group was made of representatives of the wireless industry and municipalities. Other city zoning codes were studied, but the working group decided to start from scratch.
“We started by creating a set of guiding principles, which was led by the mayor of City of San Jose, California,” Dimitroff said. “We started off, conceptually, with a series of definitions and a structure that would apply to all technologies, not just 5G, in cities large and small. We developed a code that would be applicable for deployments within the right-of-way and outside the right-of-way.”
The working group went through 35 drafts of its municipal code, which was designed to gain support from both municipalities and the wireless infrastructure industry. No mean feat. In the most controversial areas, such as rates and fees and structure height, the code has open-ended guidance.
“We did not come up with specific dollar amounts or any certain formulas. Instead we had consensus that fees should be enumerated and gave some examples of the rates and fees that could apply,” Dimitroff said. “In another example of a controversial area, the height of the deployment, we left it open-ended, but made it clear that consideration needs to be given at the municipal level to what is an appropriate height of a pole in the public right-of-way.”
The model municipal code did address a big issue for the wireless industry: application processing times. According to the code, within 30 days after receiving an application, a municipality must determine whether or not it is complete, and 60 days later it must approve or deny the application. In response to a denial, an applicant has 30 days to resubmit to avoid an additional application fee.
The state code is written in language that can be codified into law, and the municipal language can be directly turned into city zoning code. Rights of access to existing infrastructure and access to poles, among other things, were also addressed.
J. Sharpe Smith
J. Sharpe Smith joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 29 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence. Sharpe Smith may be contacted at: email@example.com.