Cities, Counties Challenge FCC on 5G Network Deployment (2)

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By Alexis Kramer

Los Angeles, Seattle, and 22 other cities and counties are suing the Federal Communications Commission over its move to limit local government fees on 5G network equipment applications.

Local officials Oct. 24 filed three separate lawsuits asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to overturn a commission order that would restrict how much cities can charge AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., and other carriers to process applications for the build-out of next generation wireless infrastructure.

The lawsuits reflect an ongoing battle between cities and the commission over its efforts to reduce barriers and speed up the nationwide deployment of 5G networks for connected devices and other emerging technologies.

The FCC’s order, adopted Sept. 26 and slated to take effect Jan. 14, 2019, also would require governments to act on applications for deployments on existing structures within 60 days. Governments would have 90 days to approve or deny applications for deployments on new structures.

Seattle, Tacoma, Wash., and King County, Wash. officials decried the FCC for trying to limit state and local officials’ ability to decide how wireless providers can access and use non-federal property. “The Commission’s rules are an unlawful pre-emption of local and state government authority,” the officials said in their petition.

Los Angeles and the other local jurisdictions, led by San Jose, Calif., filed a separate petition with the Ninth Circuit. The City of Huntington Beach, Calif. filed its own third petition.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which represents more than 1,400 cities, is supporting the lawsuits.

“Instead of working with local governments to win the global race to 5G, the FCC is forcing cities to race to the courthouse to defend the most basic of local government rights—the authority to manage and seek fair compensation from private users that seek to employ public assets,” Tom Cochran, the organization’s CEO and executive director, said in a statement.

An FCC spokesperson declined to comment.

Best Best & Krieger LLP, Kissinger & Fellman PC, and the Huntington Beach city attorney’s office are representing the petitioners.

The cases are City of San Jose v. United States, 9th Cir., No. 18-72883, petition for review filed 10/24/18; City of Seattle v. United States, 9th Cir., No. 18-72886, petition for review filed 10/24/18; City of Huntington Beach v. United States, 9th Cir., No. 18-72893, petition for review filed 10/24/18.

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