FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr on Tuesday unveiled a proposal that lays out guidelines for local governments that would reduce costs and limit review time for small cell deployments in order to accelerate 5G build-outs.
The FCC will vote on the plan later this month at the agency’s open meeting.
Carr, who announced the proposal in a speech at the Indiana Statehouse, said that it builds on “commonsense reforms” already enacted in 20 states.
The proposal has four main parts:
- Bars local rules that prohibit the deployment of wireless service.
- Allows state governments to charge wireless providers fees associated with reviewing small cell deployments, but the FCC will provide guidance on specific fee levels to avoid excessive fees.
- Requires local governments to approve or disapprove small cell applications within 60 days when attaching to an existing structure, or within 90 days when the application seeks to build new small cell poles.
- Places “modest guardrails” on other local rules that may prohibit deployment, while still allowing local governments to handle aspects, like “reasonable aesthetic reviews.”
Carr’s plan will reportedly save $2 billion in unnecessary fees, generate $2.5 billion in additional small cell deployments, and create more than 27,000 jobs.
This is the latest move to streamline small cell deployment. In March, the FCC passed a sweeping proposal that removed federal oversight of small cell installations under the National Historic Preservation Act and National Environmental Policy Act, and limited fees paid by operators for tribal review of wireless infrastructure projects.
An industry-backed study commissioned by CTIA in March found that the new rules could save $1.6 billion through 2026. It also projected small cell deployments would increase from about 13,000 in 2017 to 138,000 this year and 821,000 by the end of the study window.