They Struck a Decent Balance
Steve Goodman has been practicing telecommunications law since 1983, when he began working at the Federal Communications Commission. He now represents a wide variety of clients, including telecommunications equipment manufacturers, satellite service providers and international carriers.
The FCC has taken several actions over the last few years to accelerate the deployment of broadband services. Its most recent decision, released September 27, 2018, addresses the need to expedite antenna deployments to foster the rollout of 5G services.
That FCC decision views state and local governments as one of the major obstacles to 5G deployment. The FCC decision relies on the statutory authority under Sections 253 and 332 of the Communications Act to limit state or local regulation over antenna siting if such regulation serves as a prohibition or effective prohibition on personal wireless services or broadband services.
The FCC decision has two parts — a Declaratory Ruling and a Report and Order. In the Declaratory Ruling, the FCC holds that a state or local regulatory act prohibits or effectively prohibits broadband service if it "materially inhibits" broadband deployment.
The FCC then establishes the standards for any fees that a local government can charge for processing applications or use of right-of-way or other government property.
"Fees are only permitted to the extent that they are nondiscriminatory and represent a reasonable approximation of the locality's reasonable costs."
The FCC also set presumptive limits on those fees.