5G provides reliable communications, enables near real-time interactions and has much faster data speed. 5G also provides the platform for the Internet of Things which can be utilized in improving public safety, autonomous driving, healthcare, education, smart cities, smart farming, home automation and many more.
On August 12, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld most of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s initiatives to expedite 5G deployments on existing local infrastructure. Specifically, the court upheld the following orders issued by the FCC and paved the way for the FCC to pursue a comprehensive strategy to Facilitate America's Superiority in 5G Technology (the 5G FAST Plan):
- The Small Cell Order: This order shortens the “shot clock” for cities to consider applications filed by telecommunications providers, and limits the fees local governments may charge for the use of the public right-of-way and how local governments may regulate 5G rollout issues such as tower spacing.
- The Moratoria Order: This order bans express or de facto moratoria that prevent or suspend the acceptance, processing or approval of applications or permits necessary for deploying telecommunications services or facilities.
- The One-Touch Make-Ready Order: This order streamlines the pole attachment process by shifting the onus onto the new attacher, instead of requiring each and every company with equipment on the utility pole to prepare the utility pole for expansion of wireless networks. The new one-touch make-ready process aims to shorten the pre-existing pole attachment procedure in order to expedite the 5G deployment.
Overall, the 5G Fast Plan aims to release more spectrum, update infrastructure policies, and modernize outdated regulations so that 5G technology can be implemented across the U.S without undue delay.
The court’s decision upholding the FCC’s orders is an important milestone in achieving these 5G goals and affirms the deference owed the FCC in interpreting the Telecommunications Act and the FCC’s orders.
However, challenges and obstacles remain for the 5G Fast Plan. As with any other infrastructure, 5G infrastructure will require sufficient funding to build out the complex and dense network required for 5G. FCC, private providers and local governments will also need to incorporate innovative ways to minimize the O&M costs of the network and ensure there are no cybersecurity issues or potential health hazards that have been raised by opponents.
Youju Min is an experienced infrastructure finance and development lawyer specializing in public-private partnerships and has worked in five major cities globally representing developers, sponsors, lenders, underwriters and ...
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