FCC on the Side of Carriers for Wireless Siting

As part of its effort to promote 5G build-out in what is viewed as an international race for primacy, the FCC has taken an aggressive posture in support of wireless carriers and site operators and against municipalities that, in the FCC’s opinion, adopt licensing and other regulatory requirements that impede small cell 5G deployment. On August 2, for example, the FCC adopted new “pole attachment” rules that may trigger opposition from utilities. Under the so-called new simple OTMR (one touch-make ready) provisions, OTMR rights can be claimed by a new attacher when “existing attachments in the communications space of a pole could be transferred without any reasonable expectation of a service outage or facility damage, and does not require splicing of any existing communication attachment or relocation of an existing wireless attachment.” The FCC determined that simple make-ready work does not raise the same level of safety concerns as complex make-ready or work above the communications space on a pole. In the same document, the FCC adopted a Declaratory Ruling that state and local moratoria on telecommunications services and facilities deployment are barred by section 253(a) of the Act because they “prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the ability of any entity to provide any interstate or intrastate telecommunications service.” Recognizing momentum, AT&T and Crown Castle have already pressed for further FCC action in these areas. (FCC 18-111; WT 17-79)

 

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