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Supremes Side With T-Mobile On Tower Siting

The stars seemed to be aligning in Washington Wednesday for the President's push for high-speed broadband, including clearing away impediments to broadband buildouts.

The Supreme Court ruled in T-Mobile v. City of Roswell Jan. 14 that the Telecommunications Act requires local governments to provide timely reasons for denying a tower-siting request, and that simply sending a letter and providing a transcript of the hearing 26 days later did not cut it.

T-Mobile had sued the city of Roswell, Ga., arguing that the city council denial was not supported by substantial evidence in a written decision stating the reasons. A district court agreed, but The Eleventh Circuit U.S. court of Appeals concluded that the denial letter and transcript were sufficient.

T-Mobile took it to the Supreme Court, which reversed and remanded the Eleventh Circuit, saying localities need to provide their reasoning essentially contemporaneously and stated clearly enough for judicial review.

"The City failed to comply with its statutory obligations under the Act. Although it issued its reason s in writing and did so in an acceptable form, it did not provide its written reasons essentially contemporaneously with its written denial when it issued detailed minutes 26 days after the date of the written denial and 4 days before expiration of petitioner’s time to seek judicial review."

“PCIA is pleased that the United States Supreme Court agrees with our assessment that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires localities to provide clear, written reasons when applications to build wireless facilities are denied,” said Jonathan Adelstein,  President and CEO of PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association. “ Today’s decision in T-Mobile v. Roswell vindicates PCIA’s conviction that wireless providers must be informed in a clear-cut and timely manner when siting  applications are turned down.

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.