back to article FCC greenlights small cell free-for-all in the US

America's favorite watchdog the FCC has suggested a set of new rules for installing hardware for 5G wireless broadband networks. The communications regulator's notice (PDF) of proposed rule-making sets out new guidelines for carriers and places the burden for blocking small cell antenna units on the city and state authorities …

  1. StuartMil

    Close the a tag...

    Someone might want to close the a tag in the opening paragraph... "The communications regulator's <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"notice of proposed"...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Close the a tag...

      Nah, just leave it. It's Friday. We can close the tag manually in our heads, or some other time. Think of it as a watermark.

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: Close the a tag...

      A bird flew through the 5G signal where the close tag was. Those millimeter bands are rather fragile.

    3. fobobob

      Re: Close the a tag...

      That and the 'wil' in the byline... wil anyone even notice? (Seems it may be an obsolete spelling of will, so I'll just pretend someone was being witty)

  2. Old Used Programmer Silver badge

    The obvious solution...

    ...from a city's perspective...on notice, automatically deny all installation plans. Then wait for the telco to make a formal request for permission.

  3. Bryan Hall

    This is great

    Federalism at the FCC is a great move. Communities should have the say over where towers can be placed, instead of a group of people who don't have to see it day after day.

    There has to be some fine print on it, right?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: This is great

      It's not about new towers. It's about putting 5g kit on top of existing lighting poles and the city has to be notified. The change is that if the city doesn't respond yay or nay within a fixed time period, then it defaults to yay instead of the current nay.

      I don't even see it as a big change. It's just putting pressure on city planners to respond in a fixed time frame instead of dragging things on because they can't be arsed to reply.

      1. Orv

        Re: This is great

        Generally cities drag these things out with public comment periods, where NIMBYs tend to rule the day.

        But I'm less worried about this than I am about the surveillance cameras that apparently can be installed on light poles in secret:

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This is great

          Those surveillance cams have already been in place for years.

    2. ENS

      Re: This is great

      Do you get to vote on when/where a new lamp-post, stop sign, traffic light or no-entry sign goes? No, the city decides autonomously where to put them, what colour, height etc. The city does not review the need for its own street furniture one-by-one with citizens, giving them the opportunity to vote/veto/support them.

      London has 500,000 streetlights, 6000 sets of traffic lights. With over 60,000 streets, there's around 200,000 street name plates and several million Stop/Give Way, Humps Ahead, (No) Parking, 1-Way, 2-Way, Speed Limit, Bus/Cycle Lane, Directions etc all installed without so much as a by your leave.

      That's just one large city. Other cities and jurisdictions will differ - there are approx 150 Million wooden telephone poles in the USA.

      So a typical 5G Small Cell will be the size of a typical speed limit sign, why should you care where these are placed when you do not care where speed limit signs or 'No Parking signs are placed?

  4. P. Lee

    >America's favorite watchdog

    As in, it isn't a guard dog, it just sits there an watches things?

  5. Steve Knox


    It all hinges on the definition of "a reasonable period of time" -- should that be measured in weeks, days, or minutes?

    If I were a city administrator, I'd be tempted to create a specific e-mail address required to be used for notification, with an auto-responder that simply stated "application denied." This is why it's probably good that I'm not in politics.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Reasonable

      Yes indeed, as a city who did that would find itself on the losing end of several expensive lawsuits.

      Such permissions have to be given or rejected on reasonable grounds, and blanket rejections aren't reasonable.

      This is the FCC saying "You can't drag it out until they give up. Do your damn job or get fired."

      1. Malcolm Weir

        Re: Reasonable

        No, Richard, this is the FCC saying that cities must prioritize the desires of telco's to stick things on public property over anything else.

        Bizarrely, this is entirely contrary to the idea of putting power in the hands of the local authorities. Instead, it is the central government demanding (but not paying for) the local government do things the way they (the FCC aka the Telcos) want.

        This is a similar thing to the "sanctuary city" brou-hah-hah: if the feds want cities and counties to provide goods and services in support of federal priorities, then the American Way is to PAY for it. If the feds don't want to pay, then let the local authorities prioritize things however their citizens think best.

        [ Biggest lie from the feds about "sanctuary cities" is that they quote the link between sanctuary status and crime rates, without pointing out that the link is strongly contrary to what they suggest: sanctuary cities have lower violent crime than others. ]

      2. Steve Knox

        Re: Reasonable

        Thanks, Richard, for twigging off of my joke rather than answering my legitimate concern.

        In doing so, you've extended use of the very term which needs definition. How do you define a reasonable amount of time or reasonable grounds? Without a fairly comprehensive definition, this proposed rule would only have the effect of wasting local governments' time and resources with those expensive lawsuits you hate so much any time they don't give telcos whatever they want.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Reasonable

          A lot of law is based on the word "reasonable". It's been very well defined by case law.

          Do a quick search.

          Possibly the biggest one is health and safety law.

          1. Steve Knox

            Re: Reasonable

            The problem is that it has to be defined by case law. For those playing along, case law is law that has been tried in front of a judge. Hence the expensive lawsuits we both want to avoid.

            The best way to do that is to define "reasonable" in this context before a judge ever has to listen to any arguments. That's all I'm asking for.

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    I think that's a poor selection of pronoun

    ""Current and next-generation wireless broadband have the potential to bring enormous benefits to the US,"

    Should read.

    "Current and next-generation wireless broadband have the potential to bring enormous benefits to me,"

    Just another little contribution to 'Ol Sweet Pai's future resume.

    BTW this is like the David Cameron "Opt out" if you don't want to be filtered by your ISP BS in the UK.

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