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FCC Streamlines Deployment of 5G Wireless Infrastructure

The Federal Communications (“FCC”) today announced an agreement  with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers to exempt physically small deployments such as distributed antenna systems (“DAS”) and small cells from historic preservation review – Section 106 review – if they do not have a negative impact on the site.  Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires federal agencies to consider the effects of federally funded projects on historic properties prior to the expenditure of any federal funds.  Most small cells are not financed by federal funds, but historic review requirements can nonetheless delay deployments.

The FCC took this action to facilitate 5G buildout, a critical component of the Internet of Things (“IoT”).  5G implementation will require increasing spectrum availability, backhaul connectivity, and infrastructure deployment.   DAS and small cells are essential parts of the physical networks that will support the exponential growth of data intensive 5G uses in the next few years.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, “The interconnected world of the future will be the result of decisions we make today.  That is why 5G is a national priority, and why today’s agreement to streamline small cell deployment will play a critical role in the successful deployment of next generation wireless service.”  The new exclusions lay the groundwork for 5G service by reducing the cost, time, and burden associated with deployment, and by providing opportunities to make existing networks denser at low cost and with very little impact.

This agreement  will apply only to applications to deploy near nationally registered historic sites.   Many localities have designated  their own historic sites; these will not be affected by the agreement.

If you would like additional Information about this agreement or other matters pertaining to the spectrum allocation or the siting of small cell or other radiofrequency equipment, please contact IoT Attorney Ronald E. Quirk, Jr. at (703) 714-1305 or req@commlawgroup.com.

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