FCC Seeks Comments on Small Cell Deployment

To further its goal to expedite wireless deployment, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeks comments on a petition proposing the FCC streamline wireless facilities siting requests.
(Published Feb 6, 2017)

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Wireless Bureau has released a Public Notice seeking comments on local wireless facilities siting policies as they apply to small cell infrastructure and, more specifically, on a recent petition by a telecommunications company called Mobilitie. Initial comments are due March 8, and reply comments are due April 7.

Mobilitie’s petition asks the FCC to interpret the meaning of fair and reasonable compensation allowed under the Telecommunications Act.

Both the National League of Cities (NLC) and the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) plan to submit comments, and LMC encourages cities to either submit their own comments or to reply to LMC’s or NLC’s comments.

Major city concerns
The FCC notice requests feedback on a variety of important issues to local governments, including, among other things, whether local siting procedures hinder the rollout of small cell wireless infrastructure and whether local fees are excessive or discriminatory and should be limited.

The public notice does not propose a specific remedy to the issues raised in Mobilitie’s petition, other than suggesting that the FCC may use the data to further interpret the Telecommunications Act. Additional FCC interpretations likely would hinder the authority of local governments to manage their rights of way (ROW), charge sufficient fees, and carry out meaningful wireless siting review.

City input needed
Cities submit comments independently or wait until LMC files its comment and then reply to LMC’s comment. Submitting comments or reply comments enables cities to highlight that deployment is, in fact, happening in Minnesota communities and to discourage federal overreach.

Cities can file comments on the FCC’s website. Once on the site, follow these steps:

  1. Start typing the number 16-421 in the “Specify Proceeding” box, and it will pop up.
  2. Select 16-421, scroll down and click search.
  3. The Filings for 16-421 should populate.
  4. On the left side, under filters, click on “+New Filing.”
  5. That will take you to a “Submit a Filing” page.
  6. Fill out the template on the “Submit a Filing” page and, if longer comment, upload document.

What to include in your comments
Specific information from local government—rather than general statements—is more persuasive to the FCC. Provide information like the number of cell sites your city has approved in the past five years or, if applications were denied, the reasons why. Some examples of common reasons for denial include decorative poles’ wind load restrictions, undergrounded utilities, overcrowding of the ROW, safety, existence of better alternative site outside the ROW, or incomplete applications.

In your comments, you may want to discuss the reasonableness of the amount of time it takes to review and act on siting requests. Keep in mind, if your city generates revenue from leasing space in the ROW or on structures in the ROW, the city should, if possible, include the impact on city budget and resources if the city stopped getting that revenue.

Read the current issue of the Cities Bulletin

* By posting you are agreeing to the LMC Comment Policy.