FCC Votes To Revamp Tower Rules

The FCC Friday took another step toward easing the country into a broadband-driven future, in this case streamlining regulations on the construction, marking and lighting of antennas.

The idea is to make it easier to deploy wireless infrastructure.

"[A]round here, spectrum usually gets all of the glory," said commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. "But not today. Today, in this Report and Order, we acknowledge that wireless infrastructure is the unsung hero of the wireless revolution.  Because no amount of spectrum will lead to better wireless service without good—and safe—infrastructure."

The changes include getting rid of the requirement for quarterly physical inspections of towers so long as there is a "robust" remote monitoring system.

Among the other changes are allowing tower ownership to use e-mail or other electronic methods to update tenants and harmonizing rules with FAA regs. The latter is a key, said Rosenworcel, "because keeping these rules up to date helps ensure the safety of pilots and aircraft passengers nationwide." Commissioner Ajit Pai suggested that the rules had been hanging on far too long, saying that when a rule talks about notification by phone or telegraph, it is clearly long past its expiration date. Commissioner Michael O'Rielly agreed and asked why it had taken almost a decade for the FCC to act.

Wheeler, who has only been in the job for about nine months, agreed it had languished before being dusted off as part of his reg reform inquiry.

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.