Putting the right policies in place
All stakeholders want to efficiently deploy resources; therefore, the proper policies need to be in place at the federal, state and local levels to encourage more wireless broadband deployments and investment. Sensible policies must be implemented that make placement of towers, small cells, fiber and Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) equipment as efficient as possible. This can be accomplished by ensuring providers have access to place equipment on structures in public rights of way (ROW), completing siting decisions and reviews expeditiously, and assessing reasonable and nondiscriminatory fees for collocating equipment on street furniture and existing structures.
Municipalities should consider enacting wireless siting ordinances that simplify or eliminate time-consuming review processes, especially when an antenna placement in a public right of way does not substantially deviate from the physical properties of the existing structure.
For years, the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) has developed model legislation that encourages collocation on existing facilities and provides municipalities guidelines on how to effectively develop their own wireless siting ordinances. The legislation balances municipalities' concerns about the aesthetic and safety impacts of wireless facilities with citizens’ demand for ubiquitous wireless communications. To date, 22 states have adopted wireless facilities legislation using WIA’s model as a guide although bills have been introduced in more than two dozen states. These efforts reflect that states across the country have recognized the vital need of small cell deployment that is necessary to meet the increasing demand for wireless services.
Updated model legislation crafted by WIA incorporates streamlined small-cell deployments, access and accelerated timelines for rights of way, along with regulated rates for attachments and elimination of exclusive use agreements. Future model bill highlights include reasonable/nondiscriminatory rates for attachments to municipal properties outside rights of way, accommodations for strand-mounted wireless facilities, clarification of Class II/III/IV tower build standard requirements, and an opportunity for streamlined compound expansions.