How cities dictate the pace of 5G deployment

Coverage Type: 

Just how fast Americans can access 5G wireless service depends, in large part, on how effectively the guts of the network — namely, hundreds of thousands of bulky antennas — are placed in cities. In February 2020, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, California, will hear a case between cities and the Federal Communications Commission over the placement of 5G antennas. Dozens of cities have sued the FCC over its 2018 order requiring faster permitting and limiting the fees communities can charge wireless companies to install backpack-sized antennas on city property. City leaders say the one-size-fits-all rules undermine their authority to charge market rates for property access. They also say the mandated fee structure weakens their leverage to negotiate wider 5G build-outs that, for example, cover low-income neighborhoods as well as rich ones.