After Net Neutrality, perhaps the most controversial current proceeding at the Federal Communications Commission is the Broadband Deployment proceeding. This proceeding deals with how wireless carriers and other tower companies can implement small cell, 5G systems in communities without significant barriers.
This proceeding has pitted numerous parties against each other. The Federal Government, State Government, Local Government, Carriers, Tower Companies and Local Residents. Each has a differing interest, and differing views. Local informational meetings have turned into events that rival Town Halls with Congressional Representatives.
The FCC’s proceeding is an important step in reaching compromise and consensus which takes into account the varying interests of each group. Another important step was the creation by the FCC of a Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee. This Committee, originally recommended by the Government Wireless Technology & Communications Association (GWTCA), is a broad-based (no pun intended) group which is set to provide the FCC with needed input by bringing together the disparate groups.
Small Cell deployment has a significant impact on communities, their ability to take advantage of advances in wireless, and importantly the aesthetic impact. However, there is also an important future impact on the ability of communities to participate in smart cities initiatives. For there to be truly interconnected cities, as envisioned by many city planners, the ability to deploy wireless facilities must be considered as a crucial element to success.
On April 21, 2017, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making in the proceeding, and Comments are due on June 15, 2017. For the FCC, the most impactful comments are those that give thoughtful consideration to all the issues posed and bring real world solutions to this difficult problem.