The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that, among other things, seeks comment on revising its wireless tower siting rules and procedures. This draft NPRM is tentatively scheduled to be formally adopted at the FCC’s upcoming Commission Meeting on April 20, 2017.
In this proceeding, the FCC is undertaking a comprehensive review of its environmental review and historic preservation rules and procedures for wireless infrastructure deployment. The FCC seeks concrete and specific information regarding the costs and delays associated with these reviews and the impact on facilities deployment and the provision of service. If adopted, the FCC’s proposals could significantly reduce the costs of deployment and could eliminate lengthy and unnecessary delays, particularly with the Tribal Nation component of the historic review process.
In brief, the FCC requests comments on the issues described below.
Historic and Environmental Review Process
New Historic Review Exclusions
The FCC seeks comment on whether to expand the categories of wireless infrastructure deployments that are exempt from historic review to include the following:
The FCC also invites comment on whether it should revisit its previous determinations that all FCC licenses – including geographic area licenses that do not require construction permits – and Antenna Structure Registrations (ASRs) are considered “federal undertakings” that trigger environmental and historic review. Finally, the FCC requests comment on how to streamline collocations on “twilight towers” – communications towers that were built between 2001 and 2005 that did not complete the historic review process.
The complete text of the FCC’s draft NPRM is available at http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0330/DOC-344160A1.pdf.