FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said during a speech yesterday to the Indiana State Senate that the Commission will soon vote on a measure to streamline approvals for 5G networks. The order, he said, will especially focus on speeding construction in rural areas where carriers sometimes face obstacles from local governments.
“When I think about success—when I think about winning the race to 5G—the finish line is not the moment we see next-gen deployments in New York or San Francisco,” Carr said, according to the written text of the speech. “Success can only be measured when all Americans, no matter where they live, have a fair shot at fast, affordable broadband.”
Carr said that he has developed a plan based on rules already in use in 20 states. It provides for less stringent requirements for 5G small cells than communities often require for 200-foot cellphone towers. “5G networks will look much different than those legacy wireless networks of the past. Upwards of 80 percent of new deployments will be small cells with antennas no larger than a small backpack,” he said.
He commended Indiana for reforming its rules for mobile network approval 2017. Since that legislation, he said that “Indiana has seen outsized investment” in mobile network builds and carriers have deployed “more than 1,000 small cells in 30 communities across the Hoosier state.”
In addition to reducing wait times, the Carr plan also would reduce application fees for 5G carriers by an estimated $2 billion. He said that his proposals are based on established federal laws that prohibit municipalities from imposing rules that prohibit wireless network construction.
Commissioner Carr “has been very capably spearheading our work to facilitate the deployment of next-generation wireless networks,” Chairman Ajit Pai said in a blog post. Pai confirmed that he intends to put the Carr plan on the agenda for the FCC’s next monthly meeting, scheduled for Sept. 26.
Update, Sept. 6: The FCC released a draft of the “Declaratory Ruling and Third Report and Order” containing Carr’s streamlining plan along with a tentative agenda for the Sept. 26 meeting. In the introduction to the order, the FCC says the changes will help ensure that 5G will “be deployed where it is needed most: 97 percent of new deployments would be in rural and suburban communities that otherwise would be on the wrong side of the digital divide.”