Recently 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. Moratoria continue to be one of the highest obstacles to broadband infrastructure deployment. 5G networks will require the deployment of many more wireless facilities, making any instance of moratoria harmful to America’s leadership in the global race to 5G.
WIA members have seen numerous instances across the country of local communities instituting moratoria on infrastructure siting. These actions have severely slowed investment and broadband deployment. Some communities have not enacted moratoria by name but have put policies in place that would have the same effect — forestalling the deployment of broadband while unnecessary studies are commissioned, or other unnecessary bureaucratic measures are taken — all the while applications for tangible broadband deployments are ignored. These de facto moratoria have resulted in delays ranging from two months to indefinitely. Delays of this sort will freeze 5G investment and put the U.S. behind the rest of the world in 5G.
Local input on wireless infrastructure siting is important. This is why WIA works closely with local communities to site wireless facilities in a manner that is acceptable to the community. Nevertheless, when municipalities impose unreasonable barriers to broadband deployment — such as actual and de facto moratoria — FCC involvement is necessary. The FCC’s action on moratoria is a strong step in support of broadband infrastructure deployment and will help communities across the country reap the benefits of wireless broadband. As Chairman Ajit Pai said, “There may be many reasonable ways local governments can regulate network deployments in their jurisdiction, but blocking competition and better services for American consumers is not one of them.” WIA certainly agrees!