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Dems Hammer Carr Over 5G Deployment Order

FCC chairman Ajit Pai put fellow Republican commissioner Brendan Carr at the point on the item streamlining reviews for 5G facilities deployment, so he is also taking the flak from Hill Democrats strongly opposed to the plan.

The FCC is planning to vote on the item Thursday (March 22). Carr outlined the order in a speech last month.

The order would also put a shot clock and restrictions on those deployments that still get such reviews.

In advance of the FCC's planned vote this week on exempting some small-cell deployments from environmental and historic preservation reviews and taking other steps to streamline next-gen wireless broadband deployment, Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Anna Eshoo and Raul Ruiz (both D-Calif.), wrote Carr to ask him to reconsider "his proposed order," which they said would short-circuit safeguards for tribal lands.

CTIA: Streamlining Small Cell Reviews Would Save $1.6 Billion

They said the proposed order would render the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) toothless when it comes to protecting "tribally significant" sites. They also argue that what remains of NHPA shifts burdens from corporations to cash-strapped tribes.

"The proposed order claims these small wireless facilities are the size of a pizza box, but the wireless industry notes that hundreds of thousands of these sites will need to be deployed to meet consumer demand for new 5G networks," they told Carr. "If the FCC were to carve out small wireless facilities from NHPA, the Commission could be subjecting culturally significant sites to death by hundreds of thousands of small-cell cuts.

More broadly, they said the item reflects an FCC culture under chairman Ajit Pai to "act always at the behest of industry again and again at the expense of consumers, localities, and otherwise marginalized and disenfranchised communities who are in the most need of their government to look out for them."