Collocation occurs when multiple wireless providers attach antennas and other equipment to a single shared support structure or backbone, which lowers barriers to entry for new providers and reduces visual clutter. WIA worked with the federal government to streamline the redundant zoning review related to attaching, upgrading, or removing antennas on existing wireless infrastructure that has already undergone extensive local zoning and permitting review. The streamlined process enables wireless providers to expand and enhance their networks and services, and in turn, will significantly increase the pace of broadband deployment and related economic, social, and general welfare benefits. WIA advises states and localities on implementing federal regulations and assists in drafting similar streamlining policies that expand upon the federal law at the state and local level.
As wireless data usage continues to escalate, finding new and innovative ways to deploy the necessary infrastructure to keep up with demand becomes a necessity. One way to address the capacity crunch is by attaching smaller antennas and fiber to existing infrastructure closer to the end user, including utility poles in rights-of-way. The FCC and state public utility commissions have taken significant action to facilitate the use of this infrastructure for broadband deployment, including ensuring pole top access; low, uniform attachment rates; and reasonable make-ready timelines. WIA continues to work at all levels of government to ensure that wireless providers have access to these existing resources to expand coverage and enhance capacity.
WIA advocates for the U.S. government to make more spectrum available for commercial use and promotes efficient and flexible spectrum use. WIA supports innovative spectrum use models with rules that encourage increased industry investment in wireless broadband deployment. WIA has also advocated for policies that reduce barriers to wireless infrastructure deployment and promote innovation and investment in higher-frequency spectrum (24 GHz and above), which will be a key catalyst for U.S. leadership in 5G deployment.
To ensure emerging technologies, such as 5G networks and the Internet of Things (IoT), are developed and deployed across the U.S., WIA advocates for policies that allow for streamlined deployment of wireless infrastructure. As our nation experiences an exponential increase in connected devices, industry must be afforded the ability to site more wireless infrastructure in a timely fashion to keep pace with increasing demands on the network. WIA works with its members to understand technological advancements and participates in proceedings and other deliberations across various agencies to emphasize the integral role of wireless infrastructure in making use of new technologies a reality.
Wireless Network Resiliency
America’s wireless networks are increasingly relied on in times of emergency and national crisis; it is therefore important that these systems be available. Our nation’s wireless infrastructure is composed of a wide variety of site types operating in diverse environments, all with specific regulatory rules and frameworks. The heterogeneous nature of the wireless ecosystem has proven to be resilient in times of crisis, with a high degree of redundancy to ensure survivability of service in the event of a facility outage. WIA supports best practices which ensure that the vibrancy and variety of network systems, including supporting regulations governing rights-of-way, backhaul, environmental protection, noise control, backup power technologies, and zoning and aesthetics, are consistent with each community’s needs for a resilient and reliable wireless network.
Wireless services play a vital role in public safety. Citizens rely on wireless services to connect to first responders as over 70% of all 911 calls are placed from wireless devices. Wireless networks including FirstNet, provide first responders and public safety agencies with voice communications and advance mobile broadband technologies that enhance their ability to respond to emergencies. To ensure public safety, both citizens and public safety officials need access to wireless services anywhere and at all times. WIA works with federal, state and local agencies to ensure the timely and efficient deployment of wireless networks that act as our safety nets.
Environmental, Historic, and Cultural Preservation Review
Environmental reviews are an important part of safe and responsible wireless siting and infrastructure buildout. Wireless infrastructure must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and other federal and requirements. WIA works with authorities at all levels to ensure that the regulations and policies regarding environmental reviews are well informed and properly balance vital interests.
Historic preservation reviews are an important part of safe and responsible wireless siting and infrastructure buildout. Certain new wireless infrastructure must be reviewed for its potential to affect historic properties under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. WIA has aided in securing rules that streamline historic preservation review for small wireless facilities that have no or limited impact on historic properties in agreement with the FCC, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the National Council of Historic Preservation Officers. These rules help increase wireless deployment while also preserving the integrity of our nation’s historic resources.
Consultation with Indian Tribes
The construction of wireless support structures that facilitate the use of licensed spectrum are subject to important historic and cultural preservation policies. These policies provide federally recognized tribes opportunities to evaluate and ensure that historic properties and sensitive areas are protected from adverse impact. WIA supports tribal evaluations of those sites that have a likelihood of adverse impact and works across its membership to educate policymakers about how current and emerging technologies fit under existing rules and regulations.
Barriers to wireless infrastructure deployment are not unique to the U.S. WIA assists countries in understanding changes in wireless infrastructure and supports its members facing deployment challenges in countries outside of the U.S.
Aviation and UAS
As tall structures, certain communications towers must be marked and lighted in accordance with FAA and FCC regulations to ensure they are clearly visible for aviators. Recently, the wireless infrastructure industry has begun to utilize unmanned aerial systems (“UAS”) to quickly and safely inspect conditions on tall support structures. WIA advocates on behalf of its members before Capitol Hill, FAA, FCC, and other bodies and agencies concerning tower lighting and marking regulations, unmanned aerial systems, and other relevant issues to the wireless infrastructure industry.
WIA recognizes the important role wireless plays in rural communities and educates policymakers about the unique challenges associated with rural broadband deployment. WIA’s members work to deploy innovative technologies that increase efficiencies and precision in agriculture often located in rural America. These technologies depend on reliable wireless networks to function. WIA advocates for policies that promote investment in rural wireless broadband deployment through proceedings in Congress, across federal agencies, and within states and localities.
WIA helps to shape the debate surrounding tax issues on Capitol Hill and at the IRS on behalf of the wireless infrastructure industry. One of WIA’s main goals is to ensure the continuation and availability of real estate investment trust (“REIT”) status for neutral-host infrastructure providers. WIA educates federal policymakers on the importance of preserving current law, which treats communications towers as REITs, and opposes efforts to exclude communications towers from the definition of real property for purposes of REIT in federal legislation.