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Apr 5, 2018

Impact of Federal Regulatory Reviews on Small Cell Installation .

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The objective of this paper is to independently assess the impacts of regulatory reviews required for the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act (NHPA/NEPA) on 5G small cell roll-outs by U.S. wireless carriers. In assessing the costs wireless carriers incur in relation to these reviews, Accenture found the following:

  • 29% of deployment costs are related to NHPA/NEPA regulations when reviews are required
  • The industry incurred $36mm in costs for NHPA/NEPA reviews for small cells in 2017
  • As small cell deployment grows significantly in coming years, it is projected that wireless carriers will incur $2.43bn in NHPA/NEPA costs from 2018 to 2026
  • Savings of $1.56bn are estimated if the proportion of small cells requiring review under NHPA/NEPA could be reduced by two-thirds.

This work builds on previous Accenture analysis conducted on 5G: in 2017, Accenture published a point- of-view on how 5G can help municipalities become vibrant smart cities. Accenture not only estimated the benefits to the economy and society, but also looked at the challenges of 5G infrastructure deployment, due to the increased densification required compared to previous generations of wireless technology. With 300,000 small cell deployments expected in the next 3-4 years, it will be critically important to manage the cost structure, which is primarily comprised of real estate and permits, equipment, and construction/deployment. However, in certain cases, there are incremental fees associated with regulatory reviews required for the NHPA/NEPA on 5G small cell deployments. This paper assesses the costs wireless carriers incur in relation to NHPA/NEPA reviews and the subsequent impact to deployment of small cells necessary for a national 5G roll-out.

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