FCC passes order designed to force state and local governments to make quick decisions on 5G cells
The FCC will soon limit the amount of time that states and local governments will have to approve or turn down requests by wireless carriers to deploy 5G technology. According to the regulatory agency, a new order passed today will save $2 billion in unnecessary costs and stimulate $2.5 billion in new construction. The new "time clock" for a state or local government to approve building a new small wireless facility will be 90 days. The clock will time 60 days for wireless facilities being added to a pre-existing facility. According to the FCC, today's action also "boosts the United States' standing in the race to 5G."
But several cities are not happy with the feds hijacking local control over deployment of 5G small cells and other technology related to the next generation of wireless service. For example, the city of Philadelphia said that maintaining this control helps protect "the health, safety and welfare of the city’s over 1.5 million residents and 43 million annual visitors." In another blow to local governments, FCC commissioner Brendan Carr says that states and cities will be able to charge carriers to review the deployment of small cells and other technology, but cannot charge excessive fees.
All four commissioners voted for the order with a partial dissent from the lone Democrat on the commission, Jessica Rosenworcel. While she agrees with the faster review times for states and local governments, she does not agree with parts of the order that she fears will "run roughshod over state and local authority" and tell "state and local leaders all across the country what they can and cannot do in their own backyards."
Considering that the FCC seems so concerned with the U.S. leading the global rollout of 5G, it would be surprising if the agency now turns around and decides to block T-Mobile's $26.5 billion merger with Sprint. The two carriers have draped their transaction in the American flag, saying that it needs to be approved in order to keep U.S. leadership of 5G technology. Both the FCC and the FTC must sign off the deal for it to close.