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FCC to Speed Wireless Tower Approvals

Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on November 18, 2009

With network neutrality rules in the works and an investigation into handset exclusivity deals underway, the Federal Communications Commission has not been a great favorite of the wireless industry of late. But today the FCC threw carriers a badly wanted sop with new rules that require state and local governments to speed up action on applications for wireless tower locations.

The unanimous “declaratory ruling” made good on a promise FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski made in an otherwise coolly received speech at an industry conference in early October. Under the new rules, state and local governments must act within 90 days of receiving an application for a co-location, that is, a tower site to be shared with other operators, and 150 days for other applications. Carriers have complained that governments are frustrating their efforts to improve coverage by sitting on tower applications indefinitely.

The FCC also ruled that state or local governments may not use the fact that wireless service is available from another carrier as ground for rejecting an application. And they may not require a zoning variance for every cell site.

Reader Comments


November 19, 2009 3:08 AM

This is FCC hubris at its finest. While cellular antennae located in urban area are subject to local zoning regulations, these antennae are discretely attached to existing buildings and hence zoning restrictions is at a minimum. Other than freeway and industrial locations where cellular antenna is conspicuously erected, antennae sited in urban area are well camouflaged or easily integrated within the existing architecture. In the event the cellular antenna is located in rural area, local zoning rule is almost non-existent or irrelevant. Hence, all this FCC regulations requiring fast-track approval of cellular antenna building permit is hubris. If there were any delay in obtaining antennae approval it is the FCC which is in bed with the wireless phone companies and acts on their behalves to stymie competition and to protect high prices. The collapse of the financials exposed the fact that the SEC caters to Wall St at the expense of investors. Massive bailouts from FDIC and Federal Reserve is evidence that they shield their big bankers at the expense of taxpayers. The persistent high prices of wireless service in US while prices decline in the rest of the world is proof that FCC serves the oligopoly telecoms at the expense of the consumers. In the interest of free market that lowers prices to wireless consumer, FCC should be abolished or reduced to just selling public frequency.


November 20, 2009 4:14 AM


You are must be kidding. Have you every applied for a building or engineering permit for a commercial structure? The biggest complaint of any commercial developer or private property owner, is that building / engineering reviews take forever. During boom times, those timelines could be 3-6 months, just to get a first review. Even in these slow times, staffs have been cut, and the wait times can still be a month or two.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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