FCC Regulations Information

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed a declaratory ruling known as the “Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment” in September 2018. The FCC ruling restricts the authority of state and local governments to regulate small w ireless facilities in the public right-of-way and public utility easements. The FCC Order defines small wireless facility, provides for the expedited processing of small wireless facility permit applications, limits the fees that can be assessed by municipalities on the review of these applications, and places new limitations on discretionary aesthetic criteria cities can apply to these facilities. The new application review “shot clock” for small wireless facilities is 60 days for placement on an existing structure and 90 days for installation of a new structure.

Pursuant to the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, the local governments retain the ability to regulate installations for aesthetic purposes so long as its regulations do not effectively prohibit the provision of telecommunications service. However, local governments cannot regulate wireless installations based on concerns regulating radio frequency (“RF”) emissions. Regulation of RF emissions is preemptively regulated by the FCC. Local governments can require applicants to meet the FCC standards but cannot require lower radio frequency emission.

Questions regarding potential RF emissions from FCC-regulated transmitters can be directed to the Federal Communications Commission, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20554; phone: 1-888-225-5322 (1-888-CALL-FCC); e-mail: rfsafety@fcc.gov.

If you have concerns in the future that the facility is not in compliance with the FCC Guidelines, you should report your concerns to the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, 445 12th Street, S.W., 3rd floor, Washington, D.C. 20554; phone: (202) 418-7450.

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