FCC Pushes Faster 5G Buildout

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In a straight 3-2 party line vote, the FCC approved clarity on wireless citing rules to facilitate the collocation of 5G infrastructure on existing cell towers. Democrat Commissioners Rosenworcel and Starks objected, on the grounds that state and local governments should be given additional time to comment, due to their dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Commissioner Brandon Carr, speaking with the Republican majority, said that building a new tower takes two years or more. “Reusing macro towers through collocating multiple providers and updating equipment can provide the public the benefits it deserves…while avoiding the cost and delays associated with building new towers from scratch.”

Carr also pointed out that this decision would accelerate the 5G build in rural areas. Commissioner O’Rielly, who successfully pressed for more details on the documentation needed for a locality’s approval, was also pleased with the result.

Chairman Ajit Pai summed up the majority decision, saying it is, “an iron law that you cannot have broadband without broadband infrastructure.” He rightfully applauded disposition of this matter, pointing out that petitions were filed last August and September, well before the Covid-19 pandemic. He rightfully maintained that local and state governments had more than enough time to respond. 

We believe that the FCC has made a thoughtful and reasoned decision. It will save time and money, while expediting the buildout of 5G networks across the nation, including small town, tribal, and rural America.