CTIA urges FCC to modify historical preservation siting rules for small cell, DAS deployments

While the FCC has been taking steps as of late to streamline the approval process for installing new small cells and distributed antenna systems (DAS), CTIA is asking the commission to make further modifications to the rules.

In comments filed with the FCC, CTIA asked the FCC to add to the exclusions already established for Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Specifically, the wireless industry lobbying group wants eliminate the requirement that prior collocations be factored into volumetric calculations and exclude replacement structures from the Section 106 review process.

As of now, the FCC calculates volumetric limits for deployments on a cumulative basis, adding in the size of all existing antennas at a site in addition to the new proposed small wireless deployment. CTIA said this approach to calculating volumetric limits should be eliminated for large structures like buildings and water towers. Without new volumetric rules, CTIA worries that smaller wireless deployments will be scattered about in order to take advantage of exclusions, instead of focusing on collocating on structures that already have many existing antennas and other equipment.

CTIA said that the volumetric calculation process should be retained for utility poles and similar, smaller structures.

CTIA is also advocating for replacement structures to be excluded from Section 106 review. The group said that replacement structures can help improve load-bearing capabilities of existing structures and reduce structural failures. Without an exclusion, CTIA said that companies may grow reluctant to add replacement structures.

"Such a result likely will trigger the need for new construction, which will have greater impacts on historic districts than replacements," CTIA wrote.

In addition to the rule modifications, CTIA is also requesting clarifications within the Section 106 review process. Specifically, the group asks that state historical preservation officer responses be provided in written form and also asks that qualified consultants be allowed to help in determining whether a traffic control or lighting structure is a contributing element to a historic district.

The urgency to simplify small cell and DAS siting rules comes amid growing concerns that network densification efforts are being halted due to difficulties in dealing with local and municipal governments concerning zoning approval for small cells and DAS.

Wireless installation specialist Mobilitie recently downplayed reports that small cell deployment work in many markets had stalled or stopped while operators and vendors work with local governments to gain access to utility poles and other rights-of-way.

For more:
- read this filing (PDF)

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