As an alternative to the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) municipal model code, two associations representing municipalities unveiled their own guide to assist local governments developing small cell ordinances, last week.
Late last year, the FCC established the BDAC, which drafted a model code for municipalities that could assist local governments in enacting ordinances authorizing wireless and wireline broadband deployment in the public rights of way.
The BDAC model code states that it attempted to recognize the “enormous diversity” in geography, size, resources, aesthetics, existing infrastructure among local governments, but the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) and the National League of Cities believed the result still looked like a top down view of local regulation.
“Our view is that there is not one-size fits all model code that could work for every municipality in the country,” Nancy L. Werner, NATOA general counsel. “[Our model code] is a flexible roadmap with the issues that municipalities should consider when putting into their code to address deployment of wireless facilities in the public rights of way. But we are not going to tell you from a national level what you should or should not include or which words that you should or should not use.”
In the summer of 2018, the BDAC voted to recommend its model code for municipalities to the FCC. Since then it has been working to harmonize the municipal model code with model state code. BDAC recognizes that its model code provisions may not work for every municipality but it gives no alternatives, according to Werner.
“While we appreciate that BDAC recognizes the need for flexibility to represent local circumstances, we feel it is better to discuss the possible elements of the model code without giving them the words they should use,” she said. “We wrote it in a way that stresses the need for local governments to choose exactly the provisions that will work with their state laws, local charters, existing codes and policy goals…”
In the end, the sample language included in some sections of the BDAC model code was just too pro-wireless for the municipal community, so NATOA/NLC provided some alternate verbiage.
“We just wanted to show that a BDAC-type provision could be incorporated with maybe more of an eye toward what a local municipality might want to have in its code as opposed to what the wireless industry wants in the local code,” Werner said.