In the race to develop and roll out the next generation of 5G wireless technology around the country, innovators face significant hurdles from bureaucratic red tape in Washington. Specifically, archaic federal government rules stand in the way of groundbreaking innovation and prevent Americans from reaping the benefits of new 5G networks which will deliver faster speeds, alleviate skyrocketing consumer demand, and help make government services more efficient.
These rules are costly, and not just that they hold back technological development. The current way that the permitting and review process works is onerous, with reams of paperwork and thousands of hours in compliance costs for businesses deploying wireless infrastructure – millions of dollars better spent on network innovation and reducing consumer costs.
Luckily the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently considering an overhaul to its rules to expedite the rollout process for new wireless technologies. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has issued a proposal to modernize federal siting policies by exempting the deployment of 5G small cells from National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews. These reviews were originally designed to address large tower siting concerns, while 5G antennas are no larger than a pizza box and are much easier to install and maintain – a clear case where an outdated process no longer applies. If adopted, this proposal would accelerate much needed wireless network investment that would benefit all Americans.
It’s been estimated that small cell 5G deployment will result in hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure investment, creating thousands of jobs in communities across the country and providing a significant boost to the U.S. economy. And as we’ve said before, accelerating 5G deployment will pave the way for specific benefits to taxpayers as well. A wide range of government services will likely be made more cost effective over time thanks to the new network technology, and the economic growth resulting from 5G expansion will help provide stable revenues for governments and potentially curb the desire for future state and local tax increases.
The proposal is a win-win, and the FCC should vote to adopt it.