How the Local Oversight Process Addresses the Concerns of the Public Sector in Small Cell Siting

Andrew Afflerbach, PhD, PE
CEO & Director of Engineering

As the FCC and many state legislatures consider interfering with local processes regarding wireless facilities siting, I recently prepared a report for the Smart Communities Siting Coalition, addressing wireless siting and the critical importance of local process from a technical standpoint.

Among other things, my report describes and illustrates “small cell” infrastructure and discusses how the local oversight process addresses the concerns of the public sector that wireless facilities not compromise public safety, traffic, people with disabilities, and other communications.

Accommodating permitting and other local government requirements in public rights-of-way is typically a relatively small part of the cost and time required for design and construction of outside plant for a communications network, with only marginal impact on broadband investment decisions. Indeed, local permitting processes and fees have negligible impact on the decision to deploy broadband in urban versus rural areas. In fact, in our experience, the permitting process and local government coordination can help and facilitate deployment. When it is done effectively, it protects the integrity of existing infrastructure and public safety, and provides certainty and predictability to wireless carriers and wireless infrastructure companies.

In my own experience and in the experience of my colleagues at CTC, the optimal way to facilitate and smooth the wireless siting process is for wireless companies to work with localities by filing complete, accurate, timely siting applications—and by collaborating with the localities in an efficient, mutually-beneficial process of pre-planning, specification development, and reasonable staging of the deployment. In city after city and county after county, we have found that localities are highly motivated to facilitate and incentivize broadband build-out, and are willing to use permitting and other processes to enable and smooth the deployment process as much as possible.

Numerous localities are currently involved in creative efforts to understand private sector needs and to develop ways to work collaboratively. The next generation of wireless broadband deployment can best be achieved if wireless companies undertake a similarly collaborative, constructive engagement with localities.

The report was submitted to the FCC in the Mobilitie docket (WT docket 16-421) by the Smart Communities Siting Coalition. It can be found here.

Read more about Dr. Afflerbach here

Published: Monday, March 27, 2017 by CTC Technology & Energy