Friday, January 23, 2015

New wireless infrastructure rules to take effect in phases

New wireless infrastructure rules to take effect in phases

Chip Yorkgitis and Dawn Damschen, Telecom Law Monitor, Jan 21, 2015

The new FCC rules adopted in October 2014 promoting more rapid wireless infrastructure deployments will begin taking effect next month, but not all key provisions will be following the same schedule.  In the Report and Order we blogged on last fall, the Commission took steps to streamline the review process and reduce the regulatory burdens associated with wireless deployments, particularly distributed antenna system (DAS) networks and other small-cell systems.  Further, the new rules clarify the statutory requirements related to State and local government review of new infrastructure requests.
Many of the new rules are scheduled to take effect in the second week of February 2015.  But the entities the rules are designed to benefit will have to wait before the rules take full effect.  The FCC delayed implementation of several of the significant changes to the wireless infrastructure deployment process and others are subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which could take months.
Any company seeking to construct new towers or similar structures or deploy antennas on existing buildings and structures for its own wireless services or those of third-parties should be aware of the various effective dates for the new rules and be prepared to comply.  Below is a breakdown of the principal rules changes and their corresponding effective dates.
Effective February 9, 2015:
  • The EA rules identifying actions that trigger the need for a company to complete an EA were updated to state that the EA requirements do not apply to certain wireless deployments, such as mounting an antenna and associated equipment on existing utility structures, buildings or other non-tower structures, when certain criteria are satisfied.
  • Certain wireless facilities, including deployments on new or replacement poles, no longer require an Environmental Assessment (EA) if the facility is located in an active Federal, State, local or Tribal right-of-way and the facility meets certain height, size and location criteria.
Effective April 8, 2015
  • The rule providing that Antenna Structure Registrations (ASR) are no longer required for construction, modification or replacement of an antenna structure on Federal land where another Federal agency has assumed responsibility for assessing the environmental effect will take effect two months after the rules described above.
  • The new Subpart CC of the rules governing State and local review of applications for wireless service facility modification is also delayed sixty days.  These rules implement Section 6409 of the Spectrum Act ( 47 U.S.C. 1455), which directs State or local governments to approve any eligible request for modification of an existing tower or base station that “does not substantially change” the physical dimensions of the structure.
Effective Date Dependent on OMB Approval
  • The new 60-day “deemed granted” remedy for companies when the State or local reviewing body fails to act in a timely fashion on eligible facilities modification requests – those that do not substantially change the physical dimensions of the antennas structure –will not take effect OMB approval.  The FCC will provide a subsequent announcement in the Federal Register to provide the effective date.  In the meantime, companies must wait for actual approval.
  • The new rules stating that temporary structures do not require an ASR if they will meet all of the following criteria will not take effect until the OMB completes its review:  not be in place for more than sixty days, not require marking and lighting under FAA regulations,  are less than 200 feet in height, and involve no new excavation. A subsequent Federal Register notice will announce the effective date.  In the meantime, companies may construct such temporary structures without an ASR pursuant to the FCC’s interim waiver.
New Wireless Siting Rules on the Way

J. Sharpe Smith, AGI Media Group, Jan 16, 2015
The FCC published its rules streamlining the siting and construction of wireless sites in the Federal Register on January 8. The rules go into effect on different dates, which makes the process more complicated. And some effective dates depend on approval of the rules by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
The new rules update the environmental and historical property evaluation of proposed small cell and DAS deployments, as well as clarifying and implementing statutory requirements for state and local governments’ review of wireless infrastructure siting applications. In particular, the Commission provided definitions of terms in Section 6409(a), including transmission equipment, base station, wireless tower and what constitutes a substantial change of at tower’s physical dimensions.
The new rule implementing Section 6409(a) (Section 1.40001) will become effective on April 8, 2015, except for Sections 1.40001(c)(3)(i), 1.40001(c)(3)(iii), and 1.140001(c)(4), according to William Sill, partner, Wilkinson Barker Knauer.
“These sections — which include provisions addressing the tolling of time frames for review of eligible facilities requests and the failure to act by local jurisdictions (deemed granted) — contain new information collection requirements and require OMB approval,” Sill said. The FCC will publish a document in the Federal Register announcing OMB approval of these rules and the date when they become effective.
Those rules not implementing Section 6409(a) will become effective on February 9, 2015, except for Section 17.4(c)(1)(vii), which codifies the existing waiver for temporary towers and requires OMB approval. The FCC will publish a document in the Federal Register announcing OMB approval of the rule and the effective date.
Deadlines to challenge the Report & Order
As any FCC-watcher knows, this is not the final word on the subject there will be challenges and probably lawsuits. The next stages of the process are listed below:
o Petitions for reconsideration to the FCC are due February 9, 2015.
o Petitions for review to the Courts of Appeals are due March 9, 2015.
For more information, CLICK HERE

Acceleration of Broadband Deployment by Improving Wireless Facilities Siting Policies
Federal Registry

In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) adopts rules to update and tailor the manner in which it evaluates the impact of proposed deployments of wireless infrastructure on the environment and historic properties. The Commission also adopts rules to clarify and implement statutory requirements applicable to State and local governments in their review of wireless infrastructure siting applications, and it adopts an exemption from its environmental public notification process for towers that are in place for only short periods of time. Taken together, these steps will reduce the cost and delays associated with facility siting and construction, and thereby facilitate the delivery of more wireless capacity in more locations to consumers throughout the United States.

Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., Director
Center for Family and Community Health
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley

Electromagnetic Radiation Safety

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