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FCC Order to Streamline Deployment of Small Cells and Next-Gen Infrastructure

Posted: 09/27/2018
Industries: Telecommunications

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an Order on September 26, 2018, which was published on October 15, 2018, that is designed to help small cell deployment and meet the rapidly increasing demand for wireless services.  The FCC Order sets forth a number of requirements relative to the state and local government processes for approving the placement of wireless facilities and the fees to be charged.

​The specific guidance provided by the FCC is as follows:

  • Fees to be charged by state or local government must represent a “reasonable approximation of the government’s objectively reasonable costs and must be non-discriminatory” - this applies to fees to use the government’s property for the installation of wireless facilities as well as review fees for reviewing applications submitted to the government for permits to install wireless facilities.
  • Fees determined to be acceptable by the FCC:  (1) $500 for single up-front application that includes up to five small wireless facilities with an additional $100 fee for each small wireless facility beyond five; and (2) $270 per small wireless facility per year for recurring fees including right-of-way access.
  • Unreasonably high costs or excessive charges (including costs for third-party contractors and consultants) cannot be passed on through fees, even if they are an actual cost to the government.
  • Any restrictions pertaining to the aesthetics of the facilities must be reasonable, no more burdensome than those applied to other types of infrastructure deployment, and published in advance.
  • Requirements to underground facilities cannot have the effect of materially inhibiting the deployment of wireless services.
  • Establishes “shot clocks” for review of applications.  These are presumptively reasonable periods of time beyond which state or local inaction on wireless infrastructure siting applications would constitute a failure to act within the meaning of 47 USC Section 332.
  • Shot clock begins to run when the application is submitted, not when it is deemed complete by the government.
  • Shot clock for batched applications should be no longer than those that apply to individual applications.
  • Mandatory pre-application review does not have the effect of tolling the shot clock.
  • Shot clocks set by the FCC Order:  (1) 60 days for collocation on preexisting structures; and (2) 90 days for new construction.

The complete FCC Order can be found at https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-streamlines-deployment-next-generation-wireless-infrastructure.

If you have questions or would like more specific details, please reach out to Pam Scott at (302) 421-6878 or pam.scott@saul.com, or our Telecommunications Practice Co-Chair Greg Rapisarda at (410) 332-8963 or greg.rapisarda@saul.com.