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EMF Studies

15 February 2017

United States: Municipalities Warn FCC Against 5G Infrastructure Mandate

(Choice of image by Editor,
"Towards Better Health")
No mention here of health implications.

Municipalities Warn FCC Against 5G Infrastructure Mandate
by Jenna Ebersole, Law360, Washington, 10 February 2017

Several city and town leaders from across the country have urged the Federal Communications Commission against a broad federal mandate to clear the way for infrastructure for next-generation wireless technology at the local level, citing existing staffing and other challenges.

Local officials from Massachusetts, Georgia and Minnesota, as well as the National League of Cities, cautioned FCC staff at the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau on the issue, as the agency takes comments on how to streamline infrastructure installation for 5G.

Next-generation 5G wireless, based on very high-frequency waves that can carry significant amounts of data, would rely heavily on small cells packed closely together because the millimeter wave spectrum cannot carry data very far. That means that siting more infrastructure, including in localities across the U.S., will be a key component of deploying 5G.

“During the meeting, we urged the commission to avoid a one-size-fits-all mandate for local governments on small-cell wireless siting,” the Thursday filing said. “We discussed the widely varying challenges faced by cities throughout the nation in working to improve wireless coverage for city residents, while preserving their residents’ rights of way, safety and city planning priorities.”

Specific challenges in implementation include the problem of abandoned or extra pole infrastructure in rights of way, the difficulty of dealing with continuous requests for infrastructure in cities with dense populations while rural areas do not have service, and staffing shortages for “unpredictable influxes of siting applications.”

“In addition, we discussed the varying state laws that already impact local siting authority, which would greatly complicate any federal efforts to further regulate this process at the local level,” the filing said.

The group also gave an example of work in Georgia with Mobilitie — which asked for FCC action on the issue in the fall and sparked the current inquiry — to create a sample agreement that incentivizes the use of existing infrastructure and safeguards “the local aesthetic character of Georgia’s many historic neighborhoods.”

The filing comes as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who make up a 2-1 FCC majority, have signaled a willingness to use statutory authority to overtake local regulations impeding the deployment of 5G infrastructure. The Mobilitie petition for declaratory ruling on the issue could be a vehicle for that, telecom attorneys have said.

Comments continue to come in after the FCC sought feedback on the issue in December, with Verizon earlier this month asking the FCC to take action, saying the agency has the authority to do so.

In other comments, the city of Jackson, Mississippi, opposed Mobilitie’s “inflexible” applications to build over-100-foot-tall cell towers on rights of way, saying the company was treating the matter more like an order than a request.

--Additional reporting by Kelcee Griffis. Editing by Philip Shea.

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