FCC Takes Action to Remove Regulatory Barriers

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission has taken a new action it hopes will facilitate the deployment of 5G by removing regulatory barriers.

The first part of the Commission’s decision, a Declaratory Ruling, focuses primarily on local fees for the authorizations necessary to deploy small wireless facilities. Specifically, the Declaratory Ruling:

  • Explains when a state or local regulation of wireless infrastructure deployment constitutes an effective prohibition of service prohibited by Sections 253 or 332(c)(7) of the Communications Act;

  • Concludes that Section 253 and 332(c)(7) limit state and local governments to charging fees that are no greater than a reasonable approximation of objectively reasonable costs for processing applications and for managing deployments in the rights-of-way.

  • Removes uncertainty by identifying specific fee levels for small wireless facility deployments that presumably comply with the relevant standard; and

  • Provides guidance on when certain state and local non-fee requirements that are allowed under the Act—such as aesthetic and undergrounding requirements—may constitute an effective prohibition of service.


The second part of the Commission’s decision, the Third Report & Order in the Wireless Infrastructure Docket:

  • Establishes two new shot clocks for small wireless facilities (60 days for collocation on preexisting structures and 90 days for new builds);

  • Codifies the existing 90 and 150 day shot clocks for wireless facility deployments that do not qualify as small cells that were established in 2009;

  • Concludes that all state and local government authorizations necessary for the deployment of personal wireless service infrastructure are subject to those shot clocks; and

  • Adopts a new remedy for missed shot clocks by finding that a failure to act within the new small wireless facility shot clock constitutes a presumptive prohibition on the provision of services.


Action by the Commission September 26, 2018 by Declaratory Ruling and Report and Order (FCC 18-133). Chairman Pai, Commissioners O’Rielly and Carr approving. Commissioner Rosenworcel approving in part and dissenting in part. Chairman Pai, Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr, and Rosenworcel issuing separate statements.

WT Docket No. 17-79; WC Docket No. 17-84

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