The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) narrowly approved a proposal to accelerate tower upgrades for 5G despite calls to delay a vote on the plan, earning praise from Verizon, AT&T and industry group CTIA.
Though politicians pressed the FCC to allow local governments more time to review the plan, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai argued “the Covid-19 pandemic isn’t a reason to slow down our efforts to expand wireless connectivity. It’s a reason to speed them up”.
Introduced in May, the move clarifies the FCC’s rules around how local authorities should handle modifications to existing tower infrastructure. Pai stated the changes would reduce delays caused by disputes between local governments and mobile companies.
Verizon stated the FCC’s decision will “help ensure that providers quickly upgrade their existing facilities to 5G”.
But Commissioner Geoffrey Starks warned the decision could prompt “protracted litigation”, and spur local governments to more closely scrutinise initial planning applications “leading to additional frustration and delays”.
At a regular monthly meeting the FCC also began a consultation on a plan to open the 70GHz, 80GHz and 90GHz bands for 5G backhaul; and proposed a record $225 million fine for a telemarketing company which made 1 billion illegal spam calls to US residents in early 2019.
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