CA League of Cities: FCC’s Wireless Facility Rules Implementing Section 6409(a)

FCC’s Wireless Facility Rules Implementing Section 6409(a)

As the popularity of smartphones, tablets and similar devices increases, wireless carriers
continue to upgrade their networks, increasing their footprint and density. Cities play an
important role in this deployment of wireless communications facilities with traditional
land-use regulations, seeking to balance the need for faster, better service and the aesthetic
and other impacts these facilities have on localities.

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) recently issued regulations that require
cities to approve some collocations at previously approved facilities. These collocations are
not limited to traditional telecommunications towers but apply to essentially any
communications facility. This paper discusses these regulations and their impact on cities’
land-use authority. To provide context for the new rules, the paper first outlines the various
federal and state laws that preempt city authority over wireless communications facilities. It
then discusses the federal statute, Section 64091 of the Middle-Class Tax Relief and Job
Creation Act of 2012 (H.R. 3630, P.L. 112-96), that the FCC relied on to adopt the new
regulations. Lastly, the paper outlines the FCC regulations and potential city responses.2


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