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D.C. Weighs in on FCC 5G Buildout Item

Washington was quick to weigh in on the FCC's politically divided decision Tuesday (June 9) to clarify certain obligations of states and localities for assessing wireless tower upgrades. 

Those states and localities had asked for a delay the item, saying they were busy dealing with the COVID-19 epidemic, shorthanded due to related budget cuts, and trying to handle protests over racial injustice. The FCC majority argued the pandemic was even more reason to try and speed broadband buildouts via the clarifications. 

Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Communications Subcommittee ranking Leader Bob Latta (R-Ohio), and 16 Republican colleagues had urged the FCC to proceed with the item, so were pleased by the vote. 

“The Commission passed strong rules during the last decade to put Section 6409(a) into effect, which helped upgrade our networks to 4G," they said. "Now, wireless providers are moving to win a global race to deploy advanced, 5G networks, so it is time for the Commission to revisit these rules and to find ways to speed 5G deployment. This proposed Order would provide needed guidance and clarity that will help our communities benefit from greater connectivity and keep innovation in America.,” the Committee leaders wrote at the time." 

“NATE member companies perform tower co-location equipment and network upgrades on a daily basis and today’s affirmative vote by the FCC will provide much needed clarity and flexibility needed to streamline these deployment activities, make additional existing tower infrastructure eligible for these upgrades and ultimately bring more 5G services to communities and consumers across the country,” said Jim Goldwater, director of legislative and regulatory affairs, for NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association. “NATE commends Commissioner Carr and his colleagues on the Commission who voted in the affirmative to move these important 5G measures forward.” 

“We commend commissioner Carr and the FCC for their ongoing leadership in facilitating wireless infrastructure deployment," said Scott Bergman, SVP of CTIA, the wireless association. "By clarifying the rules allowing wireless providers to upgrade existing facilities with next-generation equipment, the FCC is helping ensure America will maintain its leadership in the emerging 5G economy.” 

"Achieving the full and timely potential of 5G in the United States requires good infrastructure policy," said Verizon SVP Will Johnson. "In today's order, the FCC continues its important work in facilitating infrastructure deployment by clarifying rules to avoid unnecessary regulatory review. In the 2012 Spectrum Act, Congress mandated streamlined review by state and local governments of modifications to existing wireless facilities, and today's order will further that policy. The common sense clarifications adopted today help ensure that providers quickly upgrade their existing facilities to 5G, hastening consumers' access to next-generation wireless services."

“Today, the FCC clarified Section 6409 of the Spectrum Act of 2012 to help speed up the deployment of 5G wireless infrastructure to American consumers and businesses," said AT&T EVP Joan Marsh. "The COVID-19 health crisis has reinforced the need for all Americans to have access to next-generation broadband technologies and services no matter where they live. Commissioner Carr has been a tremendous leader in this effort, and we thank him for providing guidance and support for streamlining state and local approval processes for existing structures to the benefit of communities throughout the United States.”

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.