There is a currently a lot of buzz revolving around 5G networks. Providers are teasing the idea of having wireless broadband available almost anywhere, with better speeds, and greater access than any fixed network currently in place. From the internet of things, self-driving cars, and more; 5G has the potential to be the biggest technological advancement of the 21st century.
To get America 5G ready, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr announced a plan to remove a major hurdle to 5G deployment. This plan seeks to change FCC rules to exclude small wireless facilities from the environmental and historic review procedures designed for large macrocell deployments. Commissioner Carr pioneered this plan to streamline approval of small cells by reclassifying their installation so they are no longer considered an “undertaking” under National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) or a “major federal actions” under National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).
Carr has also addressed Tribal review concerns by updating section 106 of the Tribal Consultation process. Carr has addressed upfront fees and proposed the creation of a timeline for Tribes to respond. These new rules would also remove the requirements for filing Environmental Assessments (EAs) for those petitioning for access, if providers meet certain criteria. The rules also create a timeframe for the FCC to act on these assessments, to expedite the process.
Currently, wireless deployment requires archaic and expensive regulatory action in order to build out infrastructure, regardless of whether it is a macro cell like a tower, or a small cell the size of a pizza box.
One proposal for a rollout of 5G networks involves building a dense infrastructure by covering an area with hundreds of small cells. This plan would enable providers to bring broadband at unmatched speeds to consumers wirelessly. The current regulatory landscape adds significant time and cost to placing any cells.
Wireless carriers have estimated that a significant portion of their costs goes towards these regulatory expenses. This money could be used to facilitate increased investment, but instead is wasted on these requirements. Thankfully, Carr recognizes this and has proposed a rule that will alleviate some of this pressure and enable service providers to make the US 5G ready.
On March 22nd at the next open meeting, the FCC will vote on this new rule that will help the US lead the global race to become 5G ready. With over $200 billion being spent, millions of jobs being created, and the massive boon that this will have on the US economy, it is critical that every last dollar counts. This rule will ensure that every dollar is spent on broadband investment and not wasted on arbitrary regulations.
The FCC needs to pass this proposed rule and continue working to streamline its processes to ensure that the free market will thrive without regulatory encumbrance.