Republicans Praise FCC 5G Upgrade Item

More than a dozen Republican members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, including the committee and subcommittee ranking members, have sent a letter to the FCC in support of its 5G Upgrade order, which it is scheduled to vote on June 9, 2020. 

It is the latest FCC effort to speed tower citing, upgrades, and other elements of wireless network buildouts.  

The order, would:  

1. Clarify when the FCC's 60-day shot clock on localities reviews of a wireless builder's documents.  

2. Clarify what equipment can go on existing structures.  

3. Spell out distinctions between concealment elements--having to make a tower look like a tree or a flagpole--and other conditions related to aesthetics, and clarifying that aesthetic conditions can't be enforced "in a way that negates our other rules that promote streamlined approval."  

The Republicans indicated the order would further their agenda of promoting policies that "spur innovation, reduce burdensome regulations, and help America lead in technologies that will define our nation’s future." 

They also suggested such streamlining was particularly important in a time when broadband connectivity has never been more vital.  

“During these unprecedented times, connectivity has remained a key component to supporting the economy, providing access to telehealth services, and facilitating distance learning. As the wireless industry continues to make upgrades to its networks, promote competition, and roll out new 5G services, this Order marks the next major step that the Commission can take to promote broadband buildout across our great country," they wrote in a letter to FCC chairman Ajit Pai. "Reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens to promote broadband deployment is a top priority for Congress, and we urge the Commission to approve this Order at your June Open Meeting,” the Committee leaders wrote. 

It is almost certain to do so, if not before, since some items have been voted before the teleconference meetings that have been prompted by the pandemic. 

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.