Clyburn: Delay 5G Infrastructure Vote

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn says she is all for speeding 5G, just not the route FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has mapped out.

In a statement Wednesday (March 21), Clyburn cited concerns expressed by Tribal Nations, environmental protection advocates and local governments.

Related: Dems Hammer Carr Over 5G Deployment Order

"Expediting the deployment of next generation wireless services to all Americans must remain a top priority for the FCC," but added: "I have made clear that the approach proposed by the current Order to streamline the deployment of wireless infrastructure raises many concerns," concerns she said should be vetted via further discussions and negotiations. If so, they will have to be off the clock or in the 11th hour since the vote is tomorrow morning and federal offices got a snow day Wednesday.

"The best course for all parties at this juncture is to delay tomorrow’s vote on this Order until the potential adverse impact of these proposed rules on Tribal Nations, historic sites, and the natural environment are fully addressed," she said.

Carr outlined the order in a speech last month, and a draft was released a short while later--three weeks before the March 22 vote, as is FCC chairman Ajit Pai's policy.

The plan is also to streamline the historic reviews for larger wireless deployments, including a "clear timeline" for deployments on tribal lands, and revise the commission's approach to environmental reviews, including a shot clock and a carve out for deployments at least a foot above baseline flood elevation.

The deregulatory move is meant to address what Carr said were the skyrocketing fees associated with the historic and environmental reviews, which can cost millions, and square the process with the fact that 5G deployments can be "smaller than a backpack and attach to existing structures.

Republicans are generally for preempting the reviews as unnecessary impediments to a swifter rollout, while Democrats see it as another attempt to bypass protections in favor of corporate interests.

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.