Thirty-six mayors and elected local leaders from the bipartisan membership organization Next Century Cities sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today in support of local decision making on 5G investments, small cell deployment, and the use of public rights-of-way. Next Century Cities also released new research the organization commissioned that surveyed 176 community officials on 5G and small cell deployments and smart city applications.
The mayoral letter to the FCC pushes back on the narrative that local leaders are a barrier to small cell deployment, instead calling for collaboration between industry and municipalities. The 36 signatories, who together represent nearly 8 million Americans, include Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who recently resigned from the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) because of similar concerns.
As mayors, we feel that some commissioners have wrongly cast local governments as a main barrier to next generation wireless deployments, using us as a scapegoat for larger issues:“We are concerned that the Commission will take actions that harm the public by decreasing our local authority without actually resolving the key problems that are limiting increased investment in better networks,” the letter states.
According to Next Century Cities research, small cell deployment is well underway. Nearly half of respondents (44%) have deployed small cells in their communities, while an additional 26% are considering deployment. As deployment spreads, local leaders indicated widespread concern around federal and state preemption: 84% of survey respondents believed that state laws under consideration related to pole use for small cells were negative to their community, while only 3% believed they were positive.
As CivSource reported, Delaware recently became one of the first states to pass legislation supporting statewide small cell deployments.
Ajit Pai’s leadership at FCC has consistently come under criticism from state and local officials, network access supporters and others for being too close to private industry at the expense of the public interest.