FCC Ends Historical Review Requirement for Small Wireless Facilities

The Telecommunications Law Resource Center is the most comprehensive reference and news platform for communications law, covering broadcasting, cable, broadband, telephony and wireless;...

By Kyle Daly

Aug. 8 — The Federal Communications Commission is easing requirements for wireless company review of the historical significance of potential sites before building small-cell and distributed antenna system wireless infrastructure.

Small cells and DAS use small devices to deliver wireless connectivity across small geographic areas, including inside buildings. Dense networks comprising units using these—and similar—small-antenna technologies are widely seen as vital to the development of next-generation, high-speed wireless networks.

The agency's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau signed an agreement with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers that drops the need for companies to determine whether building out a small wireless antenna and associated equipment will run counter to preservation efforts for historic properties, the FCC said Aug. 8.

In its public notice announcing the move, the agency said such equipment, which includes distributed antenna systems and small cell antennas, typically has “very little impact on historic properties,” and that eliminating the review requirement will advance 5G deployment by eliminating cost, time and effort from the wireless network build-out process.

Commissioners, Industry React

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly applauded the agreement in statements, maintaining it will help streamline wireless build-out and get more wireless capacity to consumers faster. Wheeler said it will “play a critical role in the successful deployment of next generation wireless service.”

Industry groups CTIA – The Wireless Association and the Wireless Infrastructure Association said they supported the action but intend to keep pressing the FCC to do more to streamline wireless deployment.

“Today's action by the FCC recognizes the minimal impact of [small antenna] facilities, but there is more work to be done,” Scott Bergmann, vice president for regulatory affairs at CTIA, said in a statement. “We must streamline infrastructure policies at all levels of government, so that wireless providers can rapidly deliver the next generation of products and services to consumers.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kyle Daly in Washington at kdaly@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com

For More Information

The public notice announcing the agreement is available at http://src.bna.com/hxL

Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.