FCC Acts to Speed Deployment of Next-Gen Wireless Infrastructure; Interview with FCC Chair Ajit Pai

Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment, Second Report and Order

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently adopted new rules streamlining the wireless infrastructure siting review process to facilitate the
deployment of next-generation wireless facilities.  The FCC Order focuses on ensuring the Commission’s rules properly address the differences
between large and small wireless facilities, and clarifies the treatment of small cell deployments.

Specifically, the Order:
 Excludes small wireless facilities deployed on non-Tribal lands from National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, concluding that these facilities are not “undertakings” or “major federal actions.”

 Small wireless facilities deployments continue to be subject to currently applicable state and local government approval requirements.

 Clarifies and makes improvements to the process for Tribal participation in Section 106 historic preservation reviews for large wireless facilities where NHPA/NEPA review is still required.

 Removes the requirement that applicants file Environmental Assessments solely due to the location of a proposed facility in a floodplain, as long as certain conditions are met.

 Establishes timeframes for the Commission to act on Environmental Assessments.

The FCC said that those actions will reduce regulatory impediments to deploying small cells needed for 5G and help to expand the reach of 5G for faster, more reliable wireless service and other advanced wireless technologies to more Americans.

Statement by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai:

Re: Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment, WT Docket No. 17-79

If the United States is going to lead the world in 5G, we need to modernize our wireless infrastructure regulations. Our efforts to unleash spectrum for consumer use are necessary, but they aren’t sufficient to secure our 5G future. In fact, they’ll be pointless if carriers can’t deploy the physical infrastructure needed to bring next-generation services to the American people.

And unfortunately, our current wireless infrastructure rules are a poor fit for the 5G networks of the future. They were designed with 200-foot towers in mind, not the highly-densified networks of small cells that will be common in the 5G world.

That’s why today’s Order is so important. We take a giant leap forward in updating our wireless infrastructure rules. By cutting unnecessary red tape, we’ll make it substantially easier for carriers to build next-generation wireless networks throughout the United States. That means faster and more reliable wireless services for American consumers and businesses. That means more wireless innovation, such as novel applications based on the Internet of Things. And ultimately, that means American leadership in 5G.

Specifically, we clarify today that small cells are inherently different from large towers. So they shouldn’t face identical regulatory review under the National Historic Preservation Act and National Environmental Policy Act. We also streamline the process for Tribal review notifications through our Tower Construction Notification System……………………..

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Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about American leadership in 5G. But talk is cheap; action is what actually matters. And now is the time for action. A vote for this Order is a vote for concrete action that will help toohe United States lead the world in 5G. It’s a vote for better, faster, and cheaper mobile broadband for the American people. It’s a vote for making the United States the best home for wireless innovation and investment. And it’s a vote to extend digital opportunity to more of our citizens. That future is a bright one, and it’s one I’m determined to deliver by supporting this Order.

Read more at: https://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2018/db0330/FCC-18-30A2.pdf

Related:  Ken Pyle’s interview with FCC Chair Pai on Digital Opportunities through Grassroots Efforts

and this article:  Will the FCC Amend Rules for Small Cells….

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Addendum:

According to Lightreading, AT&T has applied to the FCC for an experimental radio license to hold “5G” related tests in Burbank, CA using 28GHz base stations and terminals, connecting within 100 meters of the base station.

 

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