FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr took the stage at a recent press conference in the Indiana Senate to announce a new proposal aimed at making small cell deployment easier, faster, and cheaper for wireless carriers. The proposal is comprised of four main points that take the best bits of state-level legislature that's already on the books in 20 states, with the main goal of getting unnecessarily long review processes and hefty fees out of the equation, thus making small cell deployment and 5G technology a more appealing proposal for wireless carriers. This, in turn, would make the technology more accessible to smaller and poorer communities. Essentially, this proposal would not only speed up the rollout of 5G nationwide, but would spread it further, avoiding the large rural gaps that characterized early 4G LTE efforts.
The first tenet of the proposal is that it would hand control of the 5G deployment process over to local authorities while imposing reasonable guidelines upon which they can base their policies, while also putting guidelines in place for special cases and "outlier conduct". The second tenet is that there will be fixed fee amount maximums imposed on a federal level that are meant to cover the cost of 5G inspections and vetting processes, without allowing municipalities to cripple carriers with needlessly large fees. The third tenet of the proposal is a maximum turnaround time for reviews, being 60 days for small cells to be added to existing structures and 90 days for small cells on new poles, with exceptions in place for special cases and large deluges of review applications. Finally, the proposal puts down "reasonable" standards for aesthetic reviews and requirements, and dictates that those guidelines must be published in advance, allowing carriers to work with them from the start rather than adapting projects around them.
For the moment, there is no word on exactly when voting will take place. According to Commissioner Carr, the FCC estimates that this decision would cut about $2 billion in red tape and unnecessary fees, stimulate somewhere around $2.5 billion in additional 5G investment, create 27,000 new jobs, and help 5G technologies to reach around 2 million more homes in suburban and rural settings.