FCC Small Cell Order Goes into Effect; Challenges Continue

Small Cell TowerOn January 14th the FCC’s controversial small cell order  went into effect. The order restricts local governments’ authority over the deployment of small cells within the local rights of way in several ways including imposing timelines on permit approvals and caps on fees.

An article from BB&K Law provides an update on the status of local government requests for a stay on the order and explains what the order going into effect means for cities and counties:

First, the court denied local government requests to stay the FCC’s small cell order pending resolution of the litigation. That means most of the FCC’s small cell order went into effect today. Second, the 10th Circuit granted local government requests to transfer the small cell order appeal back to the Ninth Circuit. That means both the small cell order and the FCC’s earlier moratoria order will be heard together in the Ninth Circuit. The FCC orders do not preempt state laws that may limit control over wireless facilities — both state and federal requirements apply, and if there is a conflict, the rule that most limits local authority will control.

Route Fifty  reports on specific provisions of the order and examines whether the order would actually hamper rather than help the deployment of small cells:

“I do not believe the FCC was trying to streamline faster deployment … because they really weren’t studying that,” said Blair Levin, a lawyer who previously oversaw development of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, speaking at a Next Century Cities tech policy event in D.C. “They were studying how do we lower costs.”

Levin said city officials know more about their localities than providers, and the rule undercuts the effort of cities like San José, California to close their digital divides. That city reached agreements on small cell deployment with Verizon and AT&T that will see thousands of small cells deployed and create a Digital Inclusion Fund for expanding broadband beyond its urban core.

For more information:

New FCC Shot Clocks and Other Rules Preempting Local Authority Over Wireless Take Effect Today (BB&K Law)

Will the FCC’s Small Cell Order Hinder 5G Deployment? (Route Fifty)

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