Thune and Schatz Introduce the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act

Legislation seeks to update siting policies for 5G infrastructure

June 28, 2018

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), the ranking member of the committee’s subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, today announced the introduction of S. 3157, the Streamlining The Rapid Evolution And Modernization of Leading-edge Infrastructure Necessary to Enhance Small Cell Deployment Act or STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act. The legislation updates the Communications Act to better reflect developing technology and facilitate the rapid deployment of 5G networks to meet consumer demand by setting reasonable standards for public review of infrastructure siting while recognizing the unique challenges for small municipalities.

“New mobile technologies coming online will soon open doors to next-generation mobile broadband technology, but only in areas that have the needed infrastructure,” said Thune“Many policies that made sense for the deployment of large and intrusive infrastructure are unduly burdensome when applied to the much smaller equipment now coming online.  The STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act reduces barriers to deployment while reaffirming the rights of states and localities to make decisions based on transparent, objective, and reasonable criteria.”

“Developing and deploying the next generation of wireless technology will provide more Americans with access to the internet while giving us the chance to continue our global leadership and create millions of new jobs,” said Schatz. “This bill will advance the discussion on how to best update our national 5G infrastructure. I look forward to a robust debate as we move through the legislative process.”

The next generation of wireless technology is poised to change the lives of Americans across the country.  5G, the fifth generation of wireless mobile communication technology, is projected to be up to 100x faster and support 100x more devices than technology in use today. One of the key issues that will impact the U.S.’s leadership in the race to 5G is infrastructure siting.  Most rules on the books governing siting were designed for traditional 200-foot macro towers, but next-generation 5G wireless networks will require the use of small antennas called “small cells.” This equipment can often be installed on existing infrastructure like utility poles, light posts, or buildings, but it can take more than a year to get the necessary approvals under the current rules and can involve excessive fees that far outpace the cost of actual and direct costs to communities, which can hinder deployment.

Key provisions of the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act

Reasonable process and timeframe guidelines specific to small cell applications for state and local consideration:

  • Permits must be approved or denied on publicly available criteria that are reasonable, objective, and non-discriminatory.
  • Small cell applications may be denied or regulated for objective and reasonable structural engineering standards, safety requirements or aesthetic or concealment requirements.
  • Applications must be acted on no later than 60 days for requests to collocate equipment and 90 days for other requests.
  • Flexibility and additional time is allowed for small municipalities (fewer than 50,000 residents).
  • Empowers the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to grant flexibility by issuing a one-time 30-day waiver of the timeframes required for action upon a request by a state or local government.

Requirements for reasonable state and local fees for processing applications:

  • Fees must be publicly disclosed, competitively neutral, technology neutral, nondiscriminatory and based on actual and direct costs (including, for example, costs for maintenance and inspections).

Click here for a copy of S. 3157, the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act.