Communities Seek to Appeal FCC Small Cell Order

Local governments across the nation are beginning to turn towards the courts to help settle concerns over the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) small cell order. 

On September 26, the FCC voted 3-1 to approve an order restricting local governments authority over the deployment of small cells within the local rights of way.

The order goes into effect 90 days after publication in the Federal Register. It is expected to be published on Monday, October 15, 2018 and have an effective date of January 14, 2019.

Gizmodo reports that cities, including Portland and Seattle, have taken steps to take legal action against the FCC. And City Lab reports on what exactly is at stake that has communities exploring their legal options.

Best Best & Krieger, LLP (BBK) law firm is representing a coalition of communities seeking to appeal the small cell orders:

We are setting fee caps based on population, with the lowest level being $5000. Cumulative billings will not exceed the amount of the capped commitment, unless a community has authorized an increase in their commitment level. Each community is expected to waive conflicts to the extent required to permit us to file as a group. The fee levels assume that any appeal of the orders will be consolidated into a single appeal in one U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and are not intended to cover costs associated with reconsideration or rehearing at the FCC, or for a petition to the Supreme Court.   We do expect that we will be filing for a stay and for an expedited briefing schedule.

Specifically the appeal focuses on two dockets (1) Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment (FCC WT Docket No. 17-79) and (2) Accelerating Wireline Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment (WC Docket No. 17-84). And two orders within those two dockets (1) Third Report and Order and Declaratory Ruling (issued August 3, 2018) (the “Moratorium Order”) and (2) the Declaratory Ruling and Third Report and Order (adopted on September 26, 2018) (the “Small Cell Order”).

Over 30 communities have already joined the coalition. If your jurisdiction is interested, please contact Joe Van Eaton or Gerry Lederer at 202-785-0600 or or

For more information:

FCC Approves Small Cell Order; Limits Local Authority (Conduit Street)

FCC Takes First of Two Actions: Could Cost Local Government Billions in Next Decade (BBK Law)

Lawsuit Threats Target FCC’s New 5G Rules That Kneecap Local Control (Gizmodo)

Why 5G Internet Is a Policy Minefield for Cities (City Lab)