CTIA pushes FCC to streamline small-cell deployment policies

A high-ranking CTIA executive met with FCC officials last week to continue to push for streamlined policies for deploying small cells.

Scott Bergmann, CTIA’s vice president of regulatory affairs, discussed small-cell challenges and other concerns with Nese Guendelsberger, chief of the wireless telecommunications bureau, according to an FCC filing.

“During the meeting, CTIA highlighted the importance of sound policies at the federal, state, and local levels to facilitate the rapid and efficient deployment of wireless infrastructure to support 4G LTE and 5G networks,” the report said. “CTIA encouraged the Commission to adopt the proposals in its recently-released Small Cell Public Notice that would streamline local review of wireless infrastructure applications, clarify actions that prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting wireless service, and ensure that compensation for use of public rights of way is cost-based, fair, and reasonable.”

Wireless carriers are increasingly looking to small cells and distributed antenna systems to increase both coverage and capacity as data consumption ramps up and as they prepare for the emergence of 5G. But rollouts have been slowed as municipalities, property owners and local organizations struggle to develop policies to manage them.

Montgomery County, Maryland, has around 200 pending applications for small-cell installations, Inside Towers recently reported. And a request by Mobilitie for relief from “excessive charges” for access to public rights-of-way resulted in nearly 130 comments to the FCC.

So operators and their vendor partners are urging the FCC to make it easier and less expensive to deploy the smaller transmitters. The FCC finalized rules in August aimed at addressing siting concerns in a move cheered by players across the industry, but CTIA and others claim adoption of the proposals in the Small Cell Public Notice will streamline local processes.

And the agency could develop policies that allow it to intervene on the local level if vendors find certain municipalities difficult to deal with.

“Some localities have been jacking up the price of permits,” Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said last year. “We ought to be willing to go to communities … if they’re standing in the way of progress. We’re going to have to do different ideas to convince these localities that they’re in the way.”