Small Cells Aren’t Like a Pizza Box

Repost

Pizza Box Small Cells
Number of Pizza Boxes that Fit in 6 Cubic Feet or 28 Cubic Feet

WHAT THE INDUSTRY SAYS

The wireless industry has been pushing the fiction that small cells are the size of a pizza box.   Here is a quote in a Wireless Week article

“Americans will benefit tremendously from innovations like 5G and the Internet of Things, which require more small cell facilities – often the size of a pizza box – to build a denser network,” CTIA’s assistant vice president of regulatory affairs Scott Bergmann said. “Today’s action by the FCC recognizes the minimal impact of these facilities, but there is more work to be done. We must streamline infrastructure policies at all levels of government so that wireless providers can rapidly deliver the next generation of products and services to consumers.”  (emphasis added)

Furthermore, as reported by Wireless Estimator here,  “In the CTIA presentation, the trade group said that networks can now be extended on (sic) common structures like street lights and utility poles and that there will be 300,000 “pizza box-sized small cells needed in [the] next 3-4 years.”

WHAT THE INDUSTRY ACTUALLY WANTS

While some small cells are the size of a pizza box- many aren’t.   The industry clearly doesn’t think so either despite their public pronouncement otherwise.   In the newly proposed state legislation in 20+ states, there is language that allows the wireless industry to install up to 6 cubic feet of antennas and up to 28 cubic feet of equipment on each pole.  For example, see this language from the recently passed Virginia statute.

“Small cell facility” means a wireless facility that meets both of the following qualifications: (i) each antenna is located inside an enclosure of no more than six cubic feet in volume, or in the case of an antenna that has exposed elements, the antenna and all of its exposed elements could fit within an imaginary enclosure of no more than six cubic feet; and (ii) all other wireless equipment associated with the facility is cumulatively no more than 28 cubic feet in volume, or facilities comprised of such higher limits as established by the Federal Communication Commission. The following types of associated equipment are not included in the calculation of equipment volume: electric meter, concealment, telecommunications demarcation boxes, ground-based enclosures, back-up power systems, grounding equipment, power transfer switches, cut-off switches, and vertical cable runs for the connection of power and other services.”

In other words, the industry likes to present to municipalities that small cells are the size of a singular pizza box because it makes a compelling story.   However, the want to give their members the right to install substantially larger equipment than would fit in a single pizza box.

Please feel free to use this image without attribution.   Also, for another good representation of what 28 cubic feet represents- see http://wireless.blog.law/2017/04/22/california-sb-649-big-lie-small-cells/.

Tower Projections

SNL Kagan recently released their tower projections through 2025. While there was a decline in active sites during 2014 due to the site decommissioning of Nextel, Leap Wireless, and MetroPCS, SNL Kagan thinks the shrinkage will pass. A number of positive events and trends outweigh the temporary lull of carrier consolidation, including: (1) Consumer demand for mobile data has ramped up like the blade of a hockey stick and will continue to follow that path for several more years; Cisco estimates U.S. mobile data traffic will grow 7x from 2014 to 2019. (2) The recently concluded AWS-3 auction will generate an uptick in lease amendments and corresponding new equipment roll outs. A similar demand spike will follow the 600MHz incentive auction which is scheduled to start in 2016,” John Fletcher with SNL Kagan explained. Fletcher also noted that now FirstNet has the funding to build out the 700MHz band. They will create a new tenant for approximately 20,000 to 40,000 towers across the nation. “Looking back, the U.S. has experienced a wireless technology upgrade roughly every 10 years since Analog 1G premiered in 1984,” Fletcher wrote. “Prior to and following both 3G and 4G commercial launches, tower and site growth spiked, then plateaued. Our forecast for 5G (we think 5G could emerge in the early 2020’s) mirrors this pattern. While 5G standards have yet to be set, pundits anticipate it will be the first of the wireless technologies to boast throughput rates measured in Gbps.”Tower projections

Supreme Court rules on T-Mobile v City of Roswell

The Supreme Court waded into Section 704 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act yesterday and released a decision concerning how and when a local government denies an application for a wireless facility.
In the case before the Court, T-Mobile sued Roswell, Georgia after it denied a tower application and sent a written denial letter after the hearing telling T-Mobile to read the transcript of the hearing if it wanted the reasons for the denial. The city then released the transcript of the meeting 26 days after the hearing.
As those astute readers know, the standard in Section 704 is that a denial “shall be in writing and supported by substantial evidence contained in a written record.” If an applicant doesn’t agree with a denial, they have to file suit within 30 days of the issuance of the denial to preserve their appeal rights.
After considering the facts and the law, the Supreme Court came to the following conclusion:
“Thus, we hold that the Act requires localities to provide reasons when they deny cell phone tower siting applications, but that the Act does not require localities to provide those reasons in written denial letters or notices themselves. A locality may satisfy its statutory obligations if it states its reasons with sufficient clarity in some other written record issued essentially contemporaneously with the denial. In this case, the City provided its reasons in writing and did so in the acceptable form of detailed minutes of the City Council meeting. The City, however, did not provide its written reasons essentially contemporaneously with its written denial. Instead, the City issued those detailed minutes 26 days after the date of the written denial and just 4 days before petitioner’s time to seek judicial review would have expired. The City therefore did not comply with its statutory obligations.”
So the takeaway from this is that IF you are going to deny an application, you should put your decision in writing, and provide the reasons for the denial, or if you are going to simply reference the hearing transcript, you need to make sure that transcript is available “essentially contemporaneously” with the denial letter. How long is that? Well, its not 26 days later. Would a week later be “essentially contemporaneous”? The Court doesn’t say.
Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas dissent from the majority with, frankly, better reasoned construction of the statutory language. The majority imposes this new standard of “essentially contemporaneously” that isn’t found anywhere in Section 704. The dissenting justices argue that imposition of this new requirement, while not burdensome, could trip up smaller communities in the future, and is not necessary since it isn’t part of the statutory language.
Nevertheless, this is now the law of the land as interpreted by the Court, so you’ll need to take it into account when considering a denial of an application.
The full text of the Court’s opinion (and dissents) can be found here:

Changes to Federal Communications Law as a Result of FCC’s Report and Order

If you missed last week’s webinar click the link for the recording.  Email me if you want copies of the slides.  Elizabeth@CityScapeGov.com

http://youtu.be/xOLq0KhHBlw

FCC Comments to NPRM

As we have mentioned before the FCC is soliciting comments for the Notice of Proposed Rule Making “Acceleration of Broadband Deployment by Improving Wireless Facilities Siting Policies.”

Below are our sample comments in response to this NPRM in an attempt to protect local authority.  Please feel free to use all or in part any of our comments.  

Click here to download to your computer: Sample Comments FCC NPRM

For the full FCC document right click to save on your computer: FCC NPRM doc

The initial comments are due by February 3, 2014.  There are two ways to file comments either electronically or via old-fashioned paper. 
Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed using the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System (“ECFS”.) To access the ECFS Click here:  http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/
  • Once you access the ECFS system, select “Submit a Filing” on the left side of the page, then fill in the Proceeding Number with 13-238 and complete the remainder of the information on that page
  • Then upload your Comments (preferably in Acrobat PDF format) by following the instructions
Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing.  If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.  Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, by U.S. Postal Service first-class or overnight.
**All filings must be addressed to the Commission’s Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission. 
  • All U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail or hand-delivered/messenger-delivered paper filings must be delivered to:
FCC Headquarters
445 12th St., SW, Room TW-A325
Washington, DC 20554
  • The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.  All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of before entering the building.
  • Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to:
9300 East Hampton Drive
Capitol Heights, MD 20743

2013 Year in Review and Coming in 2014

2013 Year In Review

  • Rise of the 4G LTE network – carriers spent the year upgrading and modifying their networks. The focus is now shifting to adding more capacity to LTE networks via wider spectrum channels.
  • North Carolina streamlined local regulation for cell tower siting by way of House Bill 664 – Cell Tower Deployment Act (passed as S.L. 2013-185)
  • Georgia legislature proposed but did not pass a bill similar to the North Carolina HB 664
  • Teton County, WY enacted a brief moratorium on all new cell towers then adopted clearer new regulations as promised on schedule
  • FCC staff provided guidance on Section 6409 (47 USC §1445) regarding collocations
  • Smart phone sales overtook feature phones globally
  • Smartphones began streaming pay-tv
  • More homes continue to replace wired telephones with wireless devices
  • Advances in technology continue towards 5G, but that level of service is still several years off.   When it does get here:  Everything will change
  • The Federal government delays the 900 and 1800 MHz frequency bands spectrum auction until February 2014
  • American Tower strikes a deal for $3.3 billion to buy Global Tower Company
  • The FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Acceleration of Broadband Deployment by Improving Wireless Facilities Siting Policies, seeking to formalize some of its guidance regarding Section 6409.
  • The Supreme Court affirms the FCC’s ability to impose a Shot Clock on local government’s action on wireless applications in City of Arlington v. FCC (133 S.Ct 1863)

Coming in 2014 and beyond

  • New tower deployment will continue as demand continues to increase
  • Rural towers and fiber backhaul will continue to grow
  • February 3rd is the FCC deadline for initial comments in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking “Acceleration of Broadband Deployment by Improving Wireless Facilities Siting Policies”, an Order from the NPRM is likely before the end of 2014
  • There will be an increase in DAS and small cell sites to enhance the LTE networks
  • FCC will issue RF emissions safety standards – most likely not to change from the existing standards of today
  • Federal government is scheduled to auction 900 and 1800 MHz frequency bands.
  • TV stations relinquishing their frequencies will be the biggest industry discussions over the next few years.  The public demand for more personal spectrum will be the winner and over the air TV will likely cease to exist. See 5G technologies.

We wrote recently about the FCC’s proposed rulemaking to institute new rules applicable to local government regarding how they process wireless applications, particularly collocations and that the FCC would be soliciting comments on the proposed rules.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking has now been published in the Federal Register, so initial comments are due by February 3, 2014 and Reply Comments will be due March 5, 2014.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FCC OFFICIAL POSTING

To file comments, you can do it electronically or via old-fashioned paper.

Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed using the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System (“ECFS”.) To access the ECFS Click here:  http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/

  • Once you access the ECFS system, select “Submit a Filing” on the left side of the page, then fill in the Proceeding Number with 13-238 and complete the remainder of the information on that page
  • Then upload your Comments (preferably in Acrobat PDF format) by following the instructions

Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing.  If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.  Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, byU.S. Postal Service first-class or overnight.

**All filings must be addressed to the Commission’s Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.

  • All U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail or hand-delivered/messenger-delivered paper filings must be delivered to:

FCC Headquarters

445 12th St., SW, Room TW-A325

Washington, DC 20554

  • The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.  All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of before entering the building.
  • Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to:

9300 East Hampton Drive

Capitol Heights, MD 20743