2018 Policy Year in Review

WIA’s government affairs team was busy in Washington and throughout the states during 2018 advocating for thoughtful and productive policies that help advance the goals of the wireless infrastructure industry to provide reliable connectivity to consumers and business everywhere. As the world moves closer to the dawn of 5G, these types of policies and regulations are crucial to ensuring that wireless infrastructure can be deployed cost-effectively and efficiently for the benefit of citizens and communities across the country. Following are several policy highlights from the past year:

Jan. 8: President Donald Trump called for an acceleration of access to mobile broadband in rural communities. Statement from WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein: “The wireless infrastructure industry applauds President Trump’s ongoing efforts to improve access to mobile broadband networks in communities throughout the United States. By streamlining the permitting process for siting wireless infrastructure, the federal government is reducing barriers to the deployment of the wireless networks that will deliver real economic benefits to rural communities. We are encouraged that the President has directed the GSA to take a fresh look at its application forms and require that many land management agencies utilize these forms. Further, new timelines and reporting requirements will add accountability to an otherwise opaque process of siting wireless infrastructure on federal property.”

March 6: The House of Representatives voted to pass the RAY BAUM’S Act, named for the former staff director of the House Energy and Commerce Committee who died shortly before the bill’s passage. Statement from Jonathan Adelstein: “March 6 The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) issued the following statement from Jonathan Adelstein, President and CEO of WIA, regarding the House of Representatives vote today to pass the RAY BAUM’S Act (FCC Reauthorization Act). “Today’s vote is a great step forward for a variety of reasons including the legislation’s aim to prepare the Federal Communications Commission and the wireless industry for the next generation of telecommunications technologies and deployment. This act also incorporates several elements of the MOBILE Now Act, including making more spectrum available and streamlining siting of wireless infrastructure in federal lands. We commend the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate commerce committees for their leadership and commitment to bringing broadband to communities across the country. We look forward to working in both chambers to ensure all Americans enjoy the benefits responsible and sustainable broadband deployment provides.”

March 22: The Federal Communications Commission voted in favor of the “Wireless Infrastructure Streamlining Report and Order.” Statement from Jonathan Adelstein: “We appreciate the FCC’s effort to remove regulatory barriers  to the deployment of wireless infrastructure. The FCC’s action today is designed to help our country realize the benefits of 5G. After many years of work, we are pleased the FCC has taken significant steps to modernize the tribal consultation notification system so that all parties benefit from clearer review processes, timelines, and associated fees, while protecting culturally and historically significant heritage sites. WIA looks forward to reviewing the details of the Order and working with the FCC as the agency continues to identify ways to streamline broadband deployment.”

April 6: Jonathan Adelstein was honored at the Wireless Connect conference held at the University of Maryland for his work to enhance training and education opportunities within the wireless infrastructure industry. “As CEO of the Wireless Infrastructure Association, Jonathan has worked on multiple initiatives and programs designed specifically to enhance the wireless industry’s workforce so that we can deliver the mobile networks our communities need,” said Dr. Rikin Thakker, Faculty Member of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Maryland. “Under his leadership, WIA created and launched the Telecommunications Education Center, the first initiative of its kind to provide targeted wireless training. He also played an integral role in the establishment of TIRAP, the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeships Program, which is working toward adding more apprenticeships to the wireless industry.”

July 12: The FCC announced plans to make mid-band spectrum available. Statement from Jonathan Adelstein: “The FCC’s unanimous vote to identify opportunities to make mid-band spectrum in the 3.7 – 4.2 GHz band available for expanded flexible use will help promote U.S. leadership in 5G deployment and expand broadband across the country. I am pleased that the FCC continues to make additional spectrum available to support next generation wireless services. Wireless infrastructure plays an important role in the rollout of 5G, and the FCC’s efforts recognize that role. We look forward to continuing to work with the Commission as this item moves forward.”

July 27: The FCC’s Broadband Development Advisory Committee, on which Jonathan Adelstein served, wrapped up its work on several recommendations.  Statement from Adelstein: “I commend the members of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) for their focus, determination, and compromise through months of detailed work resulting in the finalization of the Municipal Model Code. While the State Model Code and the Rates and Fees Report will continue to be discussed, I have faith that they will be finalized soon so that states will have a framework for 5G rollout. We look forward to working with the FCC as it considers BDAC’s recommendations. I also support Chairman Pai’s desire, announced this morning, to have BDAC focus on infrastructure resiliency. Wireless infrastructure has performed admirably during previous hurricane seasons, and I appreciate the opportunity to share some of the industry’s lessons learned.”

Aug. 9: WIA State Government Affairs Counsel Arturo Chang testified before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives about a proposed small cell bill. Read the full text of his testimony here. At its August open meeting, the FCC made clear that state and local moratoria on the deployment of telecommunications services and facilities are a violation of federal law. Read commentary about the open meeting from Matt Mandel, WIA’s Head of Legislative Affairs, here.

Aug. 13: Jonathan Adelstein visited C-SPAN’s The Communicators to discuss 5G and the role of wireless infrastructure.

Sept. 4: FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr outlined the FCC’s next steps on 5G deployment. Statement from Jonathan Adelstein: “I applaud Commissioner Carr’s announcement today in Indianapolis, Indiana, a state leading the way in 5G-forward policies, and an example for the FCC to consider for its next wireless deployment order. The steps the FCC is taking recognize the important role wireless infrastructure will play in enabling next generation wireless broadband. Wireless infrastructure will help the United States continue to be the global leader in wireless innovation, and I commend the entire FCC for its work. In his announcement, Commissioner Carr rightly reaffirmed a balanced framework with localities over wireless infrastructure decisions where appropriate, while ensuring that common-sense guardrails apply to actions that inhibit broadband deployment. The partnerships between the wireless industry and local communities remains crucial to 5G deployment and Commissioner Carr’s announcement strikes a positive tone to build upon them. I thank Commissioner Carr, Chairman Pai, and the other Commissioners for showing great leadership on 5G infrastructure deployment. We will continue to support the Commission in its efforts to make 5G a reality for every American.”

Read an analysis of Commissioner Carr’s remarks by Kayla Gardner, WIA’s State & Local Government Affairs Manager, here.

Sept. 26: The FCC approved an order calling for the streamlining of 5G deployments. Statement from Jonathan Adelstein: “Today the FCC approved an important Order that takes a big step to accelerate 5G deployment. The Order includes several necessary provisions that will help maintain U.S. leadership in wireless innovation. Specifically, the Order will clarify the role of state and local governments to make the process of siting wireless infrastructure faster and more efficient. For the U.S. to lead the world in 5G, sound policies like those adopted today will encourage wireless infrastructure investment. The FCC did so in a balanced manner that will encourage 5G deployment while preserving the vital role local communities play in siting decisions.This Order complements the good work of over 20 states that have enacted their own 5G legislation. Chairman Pai has shown dogged leadership on this issue and I thank Commissioner Carr for his diligence and commitment to 5G deployment. As promising as 5G is, it’s only as good as the infrastructure on which it’s deployed. And 5G will require all manner of infrastructure, including macro towers and small cells. As Commissioner O’Rielly said, macro towers play a key role in wireless networks. That role will expand in 5G. I commend Chairman Pai and Commissioner O’Rielly for their plans to address all types of wireless infrastructure in a future proceeding. WIA looks forward to working with them and the entire Commission to build on the amazing progress the FCC made today.”

Oct. 3: The Senate passed the FAA Reauthorization Act, which addressed the requirement to mark certain communications towers. Statement from Jonathan Adelstein: “I am thrilled that the FAA Reauthorization Act included several essential provisions reducing the unnecessary requirement for the marking of certain communications towers. This clarification will protect the safety of low-flying aviation without imposing unnecessary regulations that would impede the deployment of  5G wireless services. WIA commends Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson for their leadership and hard work in advancing this legislation.  I also appreciate the persistence shown by Chairman Shuster and Ranking Member DeFazio  in getting this bill through the House last week.”

Oct. 23: The FCC finalized its rules for the much-anticipated Citizens Broadband Radio Service band. Statement from Zac Champ, WIA Vice President of Government Affairs: “WIA applauds the FCC’s dedicated efforts to encourage investment in the CBRS band, ensuring it is fully utilized to benefit consumers. Today’s action to establish an efficient licensing process will prove key to the successful and expeditious deployment of service in the 3.5 GHz band. The FCC has provided critical incentives for innovation as the wireless industry deploys 5G services. We commend the leadership of Commissioner O’Rielly and the entire Commission in making this band ripe for investment.”

Nov. 1: CEO Jonathan Adelstein was named Vice-Chair of FCC Disaster Response and Recovery Working Group, continuing his important role on the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee. “I am honored that Chairman Pai has chosen me to be Vice-Chair of this vital working group,” Adelstein said. “Chairman Pai has shown great leadership in working to address proactively the myriad of issues facing communications networks before, during and after emergencies – this effort is another shining example of that leadership. The wireless infrastructure industry has worked long and hard to improve the resiliency of our networks. I look forward to sharing many of these successes with the working group, as well as learning from others on how to build on the work that has been done to ensure wireless networks remain reliable when needed most. I am impressed with the breadth of experience of my colleagues on the Working Group, and the incredible background of Chairman Grasso. I would like to thank Chairman Pai and I look forward to working with the other members of the working group.”

Dec. 12: The FCC approved an order to make additional spectrum available for 5G services. Statement from Jonathan Adelstein: “Today the FCC approved an important Report and Order to make additional spectrum available for 5G services. This action will help the U.S. continue to lead the world in wireless innovation. 2018 has been a banner year for the Commission in laying the foundation for next generation wireless services and today’s Open Meeting is a continuation of this commitment to win the race to 5G.”