FCC Strikes 'Historic' Agreement on Wireless Co-Location

The FCC has struck an agreement with historic preservation groups to help build out wireless infrastructure while protecting historic properties. 

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That comes in the form of an update to the Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas (Collocation NPA) that the FCC entered into with the Commission, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO) in 2011. 

The agreement was announced by FCC commissioner Brendan Carr, who has headed up the FCC's efforts to streamlining wireless broadband buildouts as a way to speed the deployment of 5G. 

The agreement further streamlines wireless siting reviews.

“I commend the FCC for its amendment of the Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas, which will help further improve infrastructure deployment around existing tower sites," said Steven K. Berry, president of the Competitive Carriers Association. "Streamlined infrastructure policies are critical for competitive carriers to be able to enhance and build out their networks, and I thank chairman Pai and commissioner Carr for their important work on wireless infrastructure issues. Consumers stand to benefit most from clear, efficient policies, and today’s announcement certainly is a step in the right direction toward achieving this important goal.”    

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The change means that excavation for co-location (adding wireless equipment to an existing site) that is related to but occurs outside a current tower site can qualify for streamlined review, which had not been the case previously. Carriers were allowed to excavate outside the existing site if they were taking down and replacing the tower, so the change give co-locations the same leeway. 

“This is a vitally important agreement to ensure our infrastructure policies can meet the challenges and opportunities of 5G,” said Carr. 

NATE, the communications infrastructure contractors association, praised the agreement.  

“On behalf of NATE’s 1,000 member companies nationwide, we applaud Commissioner Carr and his colleagues at the FCC for proactively collaborating with officials from the ACHP and NCSHPO to come to terms on this common-sense agreement,” said NATE president Todd Schlekeway. “The agreement is a win-win for NATE member companies, the wireless infrastructure industry and the historic preservation community. In particular, the Association is pleased that the agreement accounts for the realities of next-generation site activities and encourages facilitating collocation on existing structures." 

“We applaud commissioner Carr, the ACHP, and NCSHPO for working together to modernize the rules to reflect the changing wireless landscape," said CTIA SVP Scott Bergmann. "Today’s action will enable industry to optimize deployments and make way for advancements that can enhance the consumer experience and benefit our new 5G economy.”

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.