FCC cities, towns, states: Knock it off with 5G costs, delays

The FCC on Wednesday voted to ease restrictions on the deployment of the equipment which is necessary for the implementation of 5G networks, but opponents claim the move strips the authority of the local authorities and deprives them of needed revenues. AP photo/Jacquelyn Martin

(Copyright 2017, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The FCC on Wednesday voted to ease restrictions on the deployment of the equipment which is necessary for the implementation of 5G networks, but opponents claim the move strips the authority of the local authorities and deprives them of needed revenues.

If the agency outlines in its report, 5G will require mobile providers to ‘ implement the infrastructure on significantly more locations with the help of new, small cell facilities.”

The roll-out of 3G and 4G requires “the construction of large, 200 metres from the towers,” the FCC says. This time, “more than 80 percent of all new deployments, small cells, [so] service providers need to build out small cells at a faster pace and at a much higher density of deployment than before.”

To do this, however, requires the cooperation with national and local governments, that can be an expensive and time-consuming undertaking. So, the FCC today ruled that the state and local governments can no exorbitant fees and must approve applications in a timely manner. That includes 60 days to review applications for confirmation of small cell facilities to existing structures, and 90 days for building new.

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This is the FCC says, “the elimination of around $2 billion in unnecessary costs, which would stimulate about $2.5 billion of additional buildouts.”

Providers such as AT&T says that the move “will foster more widespread and robust investment in infrastructure.” But groups such as Common Cause said that it hurts rural areas that have inadequate 3G and 4G service.

“The FCC actions also hurt state and local government capacities to negotiate a general interest obligations, such as buildout requirements or anti-redlining provisions,” Michael Copps, a former Democratic FCC commissioner and Common Cause special adviser, said in a statement. “This gives companies even more of a possibility to do the implementation of 5G to the richest parts of a city, leaving low-income new areas.”

The order, Copps argues, is just “a corporate welfare plan that reinforces the digital divide.”

Free Press Policy Manager Dana Floberg echoed those sentiments. “Placing the blame for disconnected communities in the first place on the municipal authorities is only a distraction from the unfortunate reality that wireless companies and others often refuse to serve, or an upgrade in poor, rural areas, because they do not see the profit in it,” she said.

“Just because the FCC is to be able to save the carriers a paltry 1 percent of their 5G deployment of the charges does not mean that the money would be invested in communities that are on the wrong side of the digital divide,” Floberg said.

Earlier today, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai acknowledged that “there are some local governments that are not of this order. She wants to continue to win as much money as possible in the costs of the private sector and thus companies are forced to navigate through a maze of legal barriers to implement wireless infrastructure.

“But these actions are not only illegal, but also short-sighted,” Pai continued. “They slow down the construction of 5G networks and will slow down if not prevent the benefits of 5G of the reach of the American consumer. And let’s also be clear about one thing: If an increase of the costs of the deployment of wireless infrastructure, it is the people who live in areas where the investment case is the most marginal rural areas or lower income urban areas who are most at risk of losses. And I don’t want 5G a widening of the digital divide; I want 5G to help close that gap.”

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which runs CES, said in a statement that the FCC order “helps to be in America the lead in the global race for 5G.” The beef is with President Trump are the rates.

“Rate-driven by an increase of the costs for a tax on the 5G that will increase costs and dramatically slow infrastructure. In the global race for 5G leadership, the increase of the US equipment cost actually helps China, in an area where the US should dominate,” said Michael Petricone, SVP of government and regulatory affairs.

That is something Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who dissented in part on the current policy, wrote in a Wednesday, of the Political op-ed. On Twitter, she claimed that “The United States wants to lead in the race to be the next generation of wireless service, better known as #5G. Why are we getting into a trade war with China, that the increase in the price of essential 5G network equipment by 25%? This makes no sense.”

For more information, see our chat with Commissioner Rosenworcel MWC below.

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