SMALL CELL UPDATES
(last updated 1/27/2021)
30 states have passed small cell legislation that seek to limit local control.
5 states have failed to timely progress or session adjourned sine die.
3 states have introduced small cell collocation bills that have been either vetoed by the Governor, pulled by a legislator, or died in committee.
WHAT IS SMALL CELL?
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), small cells are low-powered wireless base stations that function like cells in a mobile wireless network, typically covering targeted indoor or localized outdoor areas ranging in size from homes and offices to stadiums, hospitals, and metropolitan outdoor spaces. The use of small cells are ideal in these types of areas because of the challenges that come with bringing coverage to metro areas.
As new infrastructure fills the skyline and the lack of open space in municipalities leaves less room for traditional cell towers, attaching small cell wireless facilities to street poles on city streets and in the right-of-way (ROW) has become the new wave of bringing more accessible broadband to constituents.
AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
As of now, 30 states have passed bills that focus on doing the following:
1. streamlining processing times for applications and permits;
2. capping collocation, application, and ROW fees;
3. limiting city/municipality's design aesthetics jurisdictions;
4. limiting city/municipality's control over denying applications for reasons outside of the bill's requirements.
This type of legislation is not going away. If anything, it is picking up steam and traction in legislative sessions throughout the U.S., and it does not just affect cities and municipalities, but also everyday people. With these new laws, a small wireless facility can be located within hundreds of feet of homes. Historic districts can be tainted with unsightly and bulky technology without the city's approval. Without more local control, network providers can also tack these facilities on an unlimited number of poles throughout the right-of-way causing an eyesore for the city's layout and its design aesthetics. The list of issues continue.
Our stance on the ongoing small cell legislation is a unique one compared to other telecom companies. Our client base is solely government entities. We track legislation and provide accessible insights, so others can be informed on the issue at hand. This expansion of new technology should be welcomed, but it should not give wireless providers the right to overrule cities and municipalities' local control.
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