The Wireless Infrastructure Association is leading an effort to keep the 5G permitting process moving nationwide. In an interview with Inside Towers, WIA President/CEO Jonathan Adelstein said the trade group has heard from members who have infrastructure siting applications in various states of approval that are stuck due to the strains put on local governments by the pandemic.
Following Friday’s FCC Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee meeting, various stakeholders began discussing the issue — and decided to keep the conversation going, according to Adelstein. The effort is not an official BDAC project. In fact, both BDAC members and non-members are working with the group.
“We’re trying to work with municipalities to reach areas of common ground on best practices they could use to get permits moving. It’s especially important when we’re seeing unprecedented demand on the networks,” said Adelstein.
Some processes require a stamped piece of paper being delivered to an office that’s now closed, for example. That’s the type of problem the group is trying to fix.
Discussing the increased use of telehealth during the pandemic, he said: “One of these permits might enable a call to someone’s doctor. We need to get this moving. These are not luxury apartments. It’s public safety [networks] we rely on for health care or education, and entertainment to keep families sane,” he explained.
Some communities are keeping their permitting process moving. There’s a lot others can learn from them, “to keep people working on essential infrastructure,” he said.
“It’s a good time to reach an agreement. It’s how do we keep people in the field, maintain networks, network capacity and get it done quickly,” Adelstein added.
One idea under discussion is agreeing to build now and certify later as the pandemic resolves that a project has been built to code. Some municipalities have emergency authorizations for this kind of situation and others don’t.
Discussions with municipalities are ongoing, he told Inside Towers. Members of the group include representatives of towercos, telecom engineering firms, carriers, telecom attorneys, municipalities, states, small cell representatives, Public Utility Commissions and others.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
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