Feature Article

March 19, 2013

Wireless Infrastructure Requires Sane Deployment Legislation

Tablets and smartphones have dramatically increased demand for wireless bandwidth. While this means that it is a good to be in the wireless infrastructure business, it also means that the laws that govern wireless infrastructure must be sensible so providers can keep up with demand.

“We’re always working on getting wireless broadband networks deployed quickly and easily,” Jonathan Adelstein, president and CEO of PCIA, the wireless infrastructure association, recently told MobilityTechzone during ITEXPO Miami. “There’s often great resistance on the local or state level.”

He said that there are all kinds of local governmental issues that slow down wireless infrastructure deployment. Even with small cell technology.

“They might be small, but sometimes a local community can act like it is a new tower, and their local zoning regulations might not distinguish between a little antenna that is slapped on the side of a building and a huge macro cell,” lamented Adelstein. “So we need to make sure that small cells are accounted for in a way that doesn’t require, for example, environmental regulations on each and every one or review of each little tiny node when one system might have hundreds of nodes.”

While PCIA is constantly fighting for sane regulations when it comes to wireless infrastructure deployment, they’ve had notable success lately.

“We championed the legislation that was enacted by Congress last year that allows collocation of an antenna on an existing facility by right, so you don’t have to go through zoning,” he said. “That has eliminated a huge amount of hassles with the 4G rollout. In fact, in reference to that I talked with the CEO of AT&T, who said this is the fastest rollout of any new technology they’ve ever done. EVER. So this is working.”

PCIA is finding that when it comes to 4G rollout, providers are taking existing facilities, usually an existing tower, and switching in new equipment. Because of the new law, they are avoiding some of the regulatory hassle that has plagued them in the past.

“Congress, in its true wisdom in this case, enacted legislation that overrode those obstacles that were being thrown their way,” said Adelstein. “I mean, why would you need a local zoning hearing for an existing tower that’s already there just to put a new antenna, or swap out an existing one? It makes no sense.”

The FCC also recently has defined the terms of the new legislation, including what exactly collocation means, what is considered a base station, and other definitions. This, said Adelstein, will help avoid litigation regarding the terms of the new law.

Wireless providers have enough on their hands just trying to meet demand. They don’t need inefficient legislation hampering the deployment of key infrastructure.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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