Small Cell Forum Welcomes FCC Move to Relax Regulations on Cell Siting

  • Posted by Real Wire
  • March 9, 2018 10:20 AM GMT

SCF has called for more urgency on dense networks to ensure IoT-ready 5G around the world

LONDON, 9th March 2018 – Small Cell Forum, the telecoms organization driving network densification worldwide, has hailed an announcement by FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr and the draft Second Report and Order in the FCC proceeding on Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment. The announcement and draft ruling represent a huge step forward to removing bureaucratic barriers standing in the way of bringing the benefits of small cells to consumers all over the US.

At its 22 March open meeting, the FCC will vote on an order that would modernize the review procedures for macro sites, and eliminate most of these procedures for small cells. The order provides that, in many cases, small cells will enjoy the same regulatory status as Wi-Fi routers, signal boosters and other similar unlicensed equipment, and therefore small cell deployments will occur far more quickly and much more cheaply.

Currently, small cells deployments are treated the same as large microcell towers, and are therefore subject to federal processes. Network operators and their agents are required to comply with extensive bureaucratic constraints when designing, building and deploying small cells. This represents significant costs and delays in the development of the dense networks required to meet the growing demand for mobile data and to lay the foundations for 5G.

This proposed FCC action is a major step towards solving such issues. Under the FCC’s draft ruling, equipment smaller than 3 cubic feet and meeting certain other conditions (e.g., mounting height), will be considered as a small facility and will no longer require the federal NEPA or NHPA review – both time-consuming and expensive processes.

SCF actively works to mitigate the challenges around small cell siting, with progress in the US having been achieved by building industry consensus around siting requirements in terms of size, power and backhaul, as well as a streamlined approval process. These have acted as benchmarks to facilitate discussions with municipalities and regulators such as the FCC.

“SCF works with legislators around the world to highlight the huge potential of small cells,” said David Orloff, SCF Chair. “We welcome Commissioner Carr’s announcement, recognising the role of small cells in taking our mobile networks towards 5G, and will continue our efforts in the United States and other markets to drive the industry forward.”

SCF works to accelerate densification by collaborating with a range of industry association partners, ensuring needs are represented and specialist knowledge is made available. It has recently held events in US and India to work with xRAN, ONAP, ETSI, GSMA, NGMN, CTIA, MEF, TIA, 3GPP and CBRS Alliance. Alongside its partners, SCF will hold an EU Densification Summit at ETSI HQ in Sophia Antipolis, 24-26 April 2018.