NACo Prompts County Action to Comment on FCC Small Cell Order

Small Cell TowerComments are due to the FCC no later than 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, September 19. NACo has provided instructions and a template letter to help counties voice their concerns. 

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote at a September 26, 2018 open meeting on an order intended to streamline and reduce industry’s costs for the deployment of small cells in local right of ways at the expense of local authority. The order is modeled after preemption legislation that has been enacted in 20 states nationwide and has been pursued in other states with varying levels of success.

NACo explains that the proposed FCC order would create new categories of “shot clocks”, limit application fees for all small wireless facilities, limit recurring fees for small cells in public rights-of-way, and limit allowable local aesthetic requirements among other limitations on local governments. NACo remains concerned that the proposed order would impede a county’s ability to address public health and safety issues associated with deployment. Local governments are bound to manage deployments under FCC requirements:

If approved at the FCC’s September 26 open meeting, the new regulations would go into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Counties would then face enforcement action if wireless providers or other small cell applicants challenge them in court based on noncompliance with the above requirements.

To help protect local zoning authority, you can send a letter to the FCC expressing your opposition no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, September 19. NACo has provided detailed instructions and a template letter to assist with registering your opposition with the FCC. Please be sure to customize this letter to provide information about your county before submitting your comments.

Small cells are wireless antennas that have a smaller footprint and shorter range than macro-cells (traditional cell towers) allowing them to be placed on shorter poles and existing structures such as streetlights and buildings to enhance broadband connectivity. Counties own substantial amounts of public rights of way therefore local authority and community decision-making is crucial to the deployment of small cells and any facilities in the local rights of way. While counties embrace innovation and the advancement of broadband technology, MACo opposed statewide legislation introduced last session that similarly would have significantly preempted local authority and also had inequitable impacts on local communities.

For more information:

America’s counties fight to protect local authority in broadband deployment (NACo)

Instructions and Template Letter (NACo)

FCC Announces New Order to Guide Small Cell Deployment (Conduit Street)

Streamlining Deployment of Next Generation Wireless Infrastructure (FCC)