FCC Removes Small Cell Red Tape To Accelerate 5G Deployment

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The United States Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted for a new order defining a ruleset change meant to eliminate the majority of red tape surrounding small cell deployment in the country, having described the move as an effort to "streamline" buildouts and accelerate the industry's efforts to embrace 5G. The new order was approved in a three-to-two vote, with Democratic Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn dissenting to the act. "Winning the 5G race does not have to come at the expense of local communities," Ms. Clyburn wrote on Twitter, having said she believes the vote should have been delayed and dissented the move because her request was refused.

Small cell deployment has recently been a somewhat polarizing topic in the U.S. that sparked additional debates with the looming advent of 5G; whereas wireless carriers are complaining about unreasonably high fees attached to even the smallest installation and management projects, tribal communities and some citizens are concerned about the impact such infrastructure has on historic sites and health. Numerous research into the matter hasn't yielded any conclusive results suggesting small cells can negatively affect one's physical well-being, whereas Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr asserted the order doesn't prevent or even restrict local small cell review and approval procedures, adding that all tribal site buildouts will still be subjected to such governance. The overall goal of the order is to accelerate 5G deployment and allow the U.S. to continue leading the 5G race, with the move itself hence facing little real political opposition relative to some other decisions recently made by the FCC such as its highly contested repeal of net neutrality protections.

Industry members welcomed the removal of small cell buildout red tape, with the Internet Innovation Alliance calling the move "an important step" toward achieving nationwide 5G coverage. "The FCC is wisely modernizing" a rulebook that hasn't been altered "in a generation," the organization of which AT&T is a member said, having thanked the agency for the decision. Verizon and AT&T are planning to start experimental 5G deployment in the second half of the year, with all four telecom giants in the country already vowing to begin large-scale deployment next year and offer countrywide coverage come 2020. The full text of the order that removes certain highly specific criteria from local review regulations and clearly distinguishes infrastructure with a minor physical footprint such as small cells from other networking hardware can be read by referring to the source link below.

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