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FCC Rules Change Threatens To Delay 5G Cellphone Upgrade Rollout

A turf war between federal regulators and local jurisdictions is brewing over the installation of hundreds of thousands of cellphone towers to upgrade to 5G.

The fifth generation of wireless internet would require more than 400,000 “small-cell” antennas to be placed fairly close together, a situation that officials in Portland, Oregon, have called an eyesore.

What’s more, the Federal Communications Commission in September drastically cut how much municipalities can charge wireless carriers to install and maintain the antennas. The FCC also shortened the time frame for cities to approve installation permits.

More than 80 cities and counties have filed lawsuits challenging the new FCC rules, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco is expected to render a decision in the lead case in April.

The technology promises to deliver more data faster to mobile devices with fewer delays and interruptions. And FCC officials have framed 5G’s years-long rollout as akin to a technological arms race with China, ordering expedited installation permits. The new rule allows municipalities 60 days to approve attaching small cells to existing structures and 90 days for raising new towers or poles.―Washington Times

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