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Saturday, September 9 • 4:38pm - 5:11pm
Streamlining Permitting Processes for Small Cells in the Right of Way

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Increasing demand for wireless capacity and throughput necessitates more widespread and variegated deployment of wireless infrastructure. Along with traditional cell towers, the proliferation of small cells, Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), outdoor Wi-Fi, and Internet of Things nodes are challenging municipalities and other government entities to streamline their processes for siting and modification of these facilities on public land, buildings, and the Right-of-Way. For new developments, permitting entities request well-integrated, context-appropriate, and secure facilities, while wireless representatives respond that onerous requirements create a significant barrier in deployment. This paper explores, analyzes, and prescribes concrete best practices and areas of compromise for municipalities and the wireless industry to streamline permitting processes, diminish costs, and reduce delays in siting of wireless infrastructure facilities.

The research methodology will identify a rigorous and methodical approach to understanding and improving on existing permitting processes, especially as they relate to fee structures, access to facilities, design concerns, and unanticipated issues. This effort involves four subproblems, including: first, identifying, describing, and characterizing issues that cause cost overruns and delays; second, surveying existing best practices and recommendations to improve negotiation and communication between municipalities and the wireless industry; third, the extent to which improvements result in cost-savings and diminished delays; and fourth, the process by which best practices can be implemented and disseminated. Research and evidence will be gathered from several sources, including submissions to the currently ongoing Federal Communications Proceeding titled “Streamlining Deployment of Small Cell Infrastructure by Improving Wireless Siting Policies” (docket 16-421), a survey of several municipal code regulations that appropriately address common problems in siting wireless facilities, and numerous interviews with municipal and wireless industry representatives.

This methodology will enable creating materials that expedite permitting processes. These materials, which will include forms and checklists that comprehensively cover all the issues that are typically encountered in the permitting process, will be methodical and applicable to any municipality. These checklists will involve engineering and other plans for new sites, modifications, maintenance, contingencies, and exit strategies. They will also address requirements and best practices in site features, aesthetic design, environmental factors, and safety practices. These recommendations and best practices will improve communication and negotiation procedures between municipalities and the wireless industry and result in cost-savings and diminished delays.

avatar for Peter Tenhula

Peter Tenhula

Deputy Associate Administrator, NTIA


Irena Stevens

University of Colorado Boulder

Saturday September 9, 2017 4:38pm - 5:11pm EDT
ASLS Hazel Hall - Room 221