On March 30, 2017, the FCC released a draft of a combined Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) and Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) (together, the “draft Notice”) designed to facilitate and accelerate the deployment of advanced wireless broadband service. The draft Notice was released in tandem with a notice focused on wireline broadband networks discussed here, and is part of Chairman Pai’s new practice of sharing drafts of items scheduled for a vote at the next FCC open meeting. The draft Notice proposes to streamline permitting and deployment of small wireless facilities to advance broadband investment and to support next generation technologies. The draft Notice comes on the heels of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau’s December 22, 2016 Public Notice seeking comment on potential Commission actions to help expedite the deployment of small cell infrastructure by providing guidance on how federal law applies to local government review of wireless facility siting applications and local requirements for gaining access to rights of way (the “Small Cell Proceeding”). The Small Cell Proceeding spurred hundreds of filed comments addressing a wide array of issues that delay or inhibit wireless deployment.
The draft NPRM proposes:
- Streamlining state and local review of wireless siting applications; and
- Overhauling the Commission’s implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and the National Historic Preservation Act (“NHPA”)