FCC Takes Further Action to Improve Efficiency of Wireless Deployment


The FCC’s actions in two proceedings on Thursday, April 7, 2011 should help pave the way for easier, less costly build-out of wireless infrastructure in the United States.

First, in a broad rulemaking order that impacts both wired and wireless pole attachments that is more fully addressed in a separate DWT Advisory issued today found here, the FCC clarified its pole attachment rules to ensure that companies may expeditiously place antennas and related “wireless” equipment on poles in the “communications space” and above that space at the pole-top at the same low rates applicable to equipment and facilities attached by non-incumbent telecommunication providers.

Second, the FCC launched a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking to improve state and local regulatory processes governing access to rights-of-way and wireless facilities siting by removing some of the more burdensome aspects of those processes, and asking for comments and information in order to develop best practices and/or rules to govern state and local regulatory bodies. The FCC’s actions in these proceedings are part of the FCC’s ongoing efforts to eliminate impediments to wireless facilities deployment.

Pole attachment order

The FCC’s April 7, 2011 Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration implementing Section 224 of the Act extensively revises the FCC’s pole attachment rules in the 30 states where the FCC regulates poles to significantly improve the speed of, and reduce the costs associated with, deployment of wired and wireless facilities on poles. (More information found here.) While addressing many issues for wired attachments, notably, the Order takes significant steps to remove the pole owner bottleneck that currently exists in the process for attaching wireless facilities to poles. Specifically, as to wireless attachments the FCC:

• Reaffirms that wireless carriers are entitled to the benefits and protections of the federal Pole Attachment Act (Section 224 of the Communications Act), including the right to pay attachment rates at no more than the telecom rate formula, which the FCC lowered in the same rulemaking to approximate the current cable pole attachment rate. As expressed by the FCC, “When an attachment requires more than the presumptive one-foot of usable space on the pole,” the presumption can be rebutted. However, that simply means that the maximum rental would be a multiple of the regulated rate for one foot of space.

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