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FCC Looks to Speed Wireless Build Out

The FCC has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, known as the broadband deployment proceeding, which is designed to speed up the deployment of wireless infrastructure. Cell site collocations, DAS and small cell deployments, and temporary towers are all included the proceeding. PCIA The Wireless Infrastructure Association applauded the commission’s aggressive approach to streamlining its rules.

“The commission demonstrated real leadership by taking such a comprehensive approach to deal with the wireless data crunch,” said Jonathan Adelstein, PCIA president and CEO.

Russell Fox, a member of the law firm Mintz Levin, said all of the proposals, if approved, would speed up tower siting.

“All of the proposals are designed to remove impediments and burdens or otherwise clarify the current regulations,” Fox said.

Municipalities will not be supportive about what they see as the federal government’s infringement on local control of cell site zoning, according to Jonathan Kramer, wireless consultant to several cities in California.

“Everyone knew it was coming, yet the commission has gone beyond what some expected by asking us to comment on fundamental issues of whether the federal or state and local governments control local land use and safety codes, and how to torture the plain words of what many see as a fundamentally flawed, arguably unconstitutional federal cram-down,” Kramer said.

Section 6409(a) of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which streamlines the regulatory process for collocations, will take center stage as the commission seeks to clarify and implement the congressional mandate that states: “A state or local government may not deny, and shall approve, any eligible facility’s 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.”

To do that, the FCC must clarify the scope of the provision and define several of the statutory terms. In January, the FCC’s wireless bureau provided interpretations of terms such as “wireless tower or base station” and “substantially change the physical dimensions.” But the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee believes the commission should issue definitions in a formal process.

“This law [Section 6409(a)] has enabled upgrades from 3G to 4G LTE technology in record time, and defining its terms will further accelerate that progress,” Adelstein.

The NPRM puts into the rules some of the guidance that has previously been provided by the FCC, offering interpretations of the certain phrases in 6409(a), according to Fox.