FCC sticks cities with boon for telecom giants

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday in a 3-1 party-line vote approved a new rule that would limit what fees local authorities can charge wireless providers as the industry builds out its next-generation networks, known as 5G.

The FCC is an independent agency of the United States government that regulates interstate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable.

With companies like Verizon and AT&T competing to bring new 5G service in the years to come, the FCC will require cities to quickly approve or deny wireless carriers’ requests to deploy 5G cell installations.

While the goal of rapidly deploying 5G is widely shared, the FCC’s approach here has come under criticism, particularly from cities expecting the endeavor to require a massive deployment of hardware across the country.

The new rules constrain the time cities have to review deployment requests, while also limiting them from taking into account issues like whether the installation will take place at a historical landmark.

Republicans say stopping local governments from charging exorbitant fees will conserve capital to invest in networks in under-served rural areas.

The proposal generated opposition from mayors and other local officials, who accused the federal agency of abrogating their authority to regulate the installation of the new technology.

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