Small Cell Deployment Fight Takes National Stage

August 9, 2018

Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee – Senator John Thune (R-SD) – introduced a bill in July regarding small cell deployment. As introduced S 3157 – Streamlining the Rapid Evolution and Modernization of Leading-edge Infrastructure Necessary to Enhance (STREAMLINE) Small Cell Deployment Act – would impose restrictions on local government authority to regulate the deployment of wireless communications infrastructure while limiting the ability of localities to raise revenues. 

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Cap the amount of fees local governments can charge telecom companies for the placement, construction, or collocation of new wireless facilities.  Fees would need to be based on “actual costs and direct costs.”
  • Establish the following shot clocks:
    • Collocation – In general, applications would need to be acted on no later than 60 days for requests to collate equipment.  Additional time (90 days) would be allowed for jurisdictions with fewer than 50K residents if less than 50 small cell-siting requests were filed in the previous 30 days; if 50 or more requests were filed, small jurisdictions would be given 120 days to act. 
    • Non-collocations – The shot clock would be 90 days for all other requests.  Jurisdictions with less than 50K people would be provided additional time as follows: 120 days if fewer than 50 requests were filed and 150 days if 50 or more requests were filed.
    • If a jurisdiction fails to act within the prescribed timeframes, applications would be “deemed granted.”

CSAC has taken an oppose position and conveyed our opposition outlining our strong concerns to the Senate Commerce Committee. We anticipate that the Committee will hold a hearing later this month on the measure and then may move the bill as a package with related measures. The ranking member of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over telecommunications issues, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), is an original cosponsor.

While neither California senator serves on the Committee, CSAC did share our concerns with Senators Feinstein and Harris on our letter and we encourage counties to weigh in similarly with both offices.


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