- The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) said in a statement that it would sue the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) if the commission does not change a proposed policy that would preempt local control in a bid to streamline installation of 5G wireless infrastructure.
- The National Association of Counties is also opposing the proposal, telling POLITICO it would "effectively prevent local governments from properly examining the impact that construction, modification or installation of broadcasting facilities may have on public health, safety and welfare of the local community."
- The proposal from FCC commissioner Brendan Carr would bar municipal laws prohibiting deployment of 5G small cells and would set deadlines for municipalities to approve or disapprove applications to install small cells or build new poles. The plan is set for a vote on Sept. 26.
Carr’s proposal, which he made last week in Indianapolis, is designed to streamline installation of the small cells necessary to get 5G off the ground. While telecoms have been bullish about giving some cities 5G coverage by the end of the year and expanding quickly after that, infrastructure remains a barrier — a recent Deloitte report found that the U.S. lags behind China in installing the small antennas necessary to give dense 5G coverage, and the wireless industry has called for rules that would streamline installation on existing utility poles and construction of new ones.
Cities and states, however, are balking at what they say would cede local control. In a statement, USCM CEO Tom Cochran said the “unprecedented federal intrusion” would “have substantial adverse impacts on cities and their taxpayers, including reduced funding for essential local government services, as well as an increased risk of right-of-way and other public safety hazards.” The public rebuke also comes after several cities in California have passed rules barring new 5G installations over health concerns. Elsewhere, cities and residents have complained about new poles, the flurry of applications that officials have to process and revenue impacts.
Carr, for his part, told POLITICO that he is working with local officials — including USCM — and that the proposal was "building on the smart infrastructure policies championed by local leaders.” Carr has touted that the proposed rule is based on rules passed by 20 states. The conflict could pose a roadblock to 5G installation, potentially delaying installation outside of major cities where infrastructure is already being built.