The Wireless Infrastructure Association and NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association, applaud the FCC, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO) for working together to promote 5G deployment by harmonizing historic preservation rules. The FCC, ACHP, and NCSHPO Monday announced an agreement that will streamline processes, making it easier to upgrade networks with new equipment at existing tower sites.
Commissioner Brendan Carr, who has led the FCC’s wireless infrastructure modernization efforts, said the deal, “represents a commonsense approach to encouraging co-locations where tower replacements are not necessary.”
“WIA and the entire wireless infrastructure industry are elated that this successful collaboration will harmonize the rules so [that] co-locations on existing tower sites are allowed similar ground space expansion rights as permitted to the tower structure. This further clears the way for new wireless infrastructure to get upgraded quickly and efficiently in the race to 5G,” said WIA Chairman David Weisman, Chief Executive Officer, InSite Wireless Group, LLC.
WIA President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein called the deal, “a breakthrough in the wall of obstacles to 5G.” The action, according to Adelstein, is the result of many years of work by the agencies to promote using existing sites to accelerate broadband deployment and to upgrade networks to 5G services. “When combined with the FCC’s proposed compound expansion rulemaking, the road is cleared for the siting of generators, mobile edge computing, carrier co-locations, competitive operator equipment, and more. In tandem with the rulemaking, it removes federal and local roadblocks for siting the equipment needed to maximize the benefits of 5G in the U.S. and win the global race to 5G.”
NATE also praised the agreement, applauding Carr and his FCC colleagues, “for proactively collaborating with officials from the ACHP and NCSHPO to come to terms on this common-sense agreement,” said President/CEO Todd Schlekeway. He called the deal a win-win for NATE members, the wireless infrastructure industry and the historic preservation community.
“In particular, the association is pleased that the agreement accounts for the realities of next-generation site activities and encourages facilitating co-location on existing structures,” said Schlekeway. “It is essential that we as a nation commit to facilitating tower modification without excessive regulatory mandates as a critical means of closing the digital divide and enhancing communications capabilities throughout the country.”
Many tower sites no longer have the physical space on the ground to house critical equipment like backup generators for public safety or edge data centers and other new equipment necessary for 5G networks. These updates from the FCC, ACHP, and NCSHPO will allow for minimal expansions of the physical space at the tower site, which will allow for the placement of equipment needed to expand 5G and connectivity.
This action corrects a quirk in the regulations that allows for compound expansions of up to 30 feet when replacing a tower “drop and swap” without an extensive historic review, but does not allow corresponding compound expansions for simply collocating additional equipment. The FCC is working to correct that discrepancy for co-locations with the recently passed 5G Upgrade Order. That established a rulemaking proceeding to allow for the same non-substantial compound expansions of up to 30 feet for collocations.
The agreement goes into effect shortly, upon Federal Register publication.
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