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Not All Municipalities Are Excited About the Arrival of 5G. But They May Not Have a Choice.

Pennsylvania legislation would make it harder for communities to regulate the new wireless network infrastructure.
September 18, 2018, 12pm PDT | Camille Fink
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Tony Webster

Jim Saksa reports on the tensions arising between wireless network builders and local municipalities as 5G networks expand on small-cell infrastructure that relies on smaller antennas and connection boxes. As companies like Crown Castle International Inc. scramble to get this infrastructure up ahead of the release of 5G smartphones next year, some towns and cities are objecting to what gets put where.

State legislation in Pennsylvania would streamline the application review and approval process and make it easier for companies like Crown Castle:

The bill would curtail local government’s ability to regulate the placement of small-cell infrastructure along public rights-of-way such as streets. It would effectively treat companies like Crown Castle as utilities — something Commonwealth Court recently ruled they are, reversing the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s ruling that they were not — thus allowing them more leeway to do what they want in public spaces than other, non-utility companies are permitted.

Wireless infrastructure companies are going to start in areas most receptive to the new networks, primarily more populated areas. But supporters of the bill say a more uniform regulatory system will ensure that particular municipalities will not hold up development of the broader network. Opponents argue, however, that there should be a compromise because they are “not philosophically opposed to the idea of surrendering a bit of local control over the streetscape to speed along technological advancement,” says Saksa.

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Published on Friday, September 7, 2018 in PlanPhilly
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