Connect (X) Coverage
UPDATE Expect action on the WIA and CTIA cell tower site petitions at the FCC’s June 9 meeting. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a Connect (X): All Access interview with WIA President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein Tuesday the Commission wants to fix “uncertainty” in section 6409(a) of the Spectrum Act in order to speed up the review process state and local governments use to allow wireless infrastructure siting.
“Now it’s up to the FCC to breathe more life into that petition,” said the Chairman, speaking specifically about the WIA request. Siting wireless infrastructure “could be a bottleneck if we don’t reform our rules,” he explained, noting that industry needs “a more consistent, more certain set of rules.”
Also during Connect (X) on Tuesday, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr further explained: “These actions are meant to separate difficult project approvals from the easier ones. One of the keys with this 5G Upgrade Order is that we’re addressing existing tower sites. It is about ensuring that swapping out or upgrading existing antennas (say 3G or 4G ones) to 5G antennas can be done quickly as Congress envisioned.”
WIA’s Petition for Rulemaking asked the Commission to amend its rules to reflect that co-locations requiring an expansion of the current site—within 30 feet of a tower site—qualify for relief under Section 6409(a) and to require that fees associated with eligible facilities’ requests under Section 6409 be cost-based.
WIA’s Petition for Declaratory Ruling asked the Commission to clarify (1) that Section 6409(a) and related rules apply to all state and local authorizations; (2) when the time to decide an application begins to run; (3) what constitutes a substantial change under Section 6409(a); (4) that ‘‘conditional’’ approvals by localities violate Section 6409(a); and (5) that localities may not establish processes or impose conditions that effectively defeat or reduce the protections afforded under Section 6409(a).
CTIA’s Petition for Declaratory Ruling asked the FCC to clarify the terms ‘‘concealment element,’’ ‘‘equipment cabinet,’’ and ‘‘base station’’ in the rules, and illuminate that when an application is ‘‘deemed granted’’ under Section 6409, applicants may lawfully construct even if the siting authority has not issued construction permits. With respect to Section 224, CTIA asked the Commission to: (1) Determine that the definition of the term ‘‘pole’’ in Section 224 includes light poles; (2) conclude that utilities may not impose blanket prohibitions on access to certain parts of the pole; and (3) clarify that utilities may not ask attachers to accept terms and conditions that are inconsistent with the agency’s rules.
However, there could be pushback from some localities. Several Western cities, including San Diego, told the FCC last month they’re working well with ISPs now to speed the 5G build and it could be risky to change existing laws now, according to Politico. WIA and CTIA have been working with municipalities as part of an ad hoc industry group to help localities keep the wireless infrastructure permitting process moving despite the pandemic, Inside Towers reported.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
The post FCC Plans June Vote on WIA, CTIA Tower Site Requests appeared first on Inside Towers.