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To meet growing demand for mobile broadband and deploy next-generation 5G networks, CTIA supports policies at all levels of government that will accelerate infrastructure deployment.

Infrastructure

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To Meet America's Wireless Demands, Our Networks Are Evolving

Since 2010 when 4G networks were launched, America’s wireless industry has invested $226 billion to build state-of-the-art networks. To meet the demand for everything wireless, we’re enhancing today’s 4G networks and preparing for 5G. Faster, more responsive, and able to connect more devices, 5G will unlock innovation and investment, transforming every sector of our economy.

To make these next-generation networks a reality, our networks need more capacity. Enter small cells.

Small cells are about the size of a pizza box and are installed on utility poles, streetlights, and the sides of buildings. They complement existing cell towers by densifying wireless networks and providing the capabilities needed for next-generation networks. To handle growing mobile data demands, we need to install hundreds of thousands of small cells in the next few years.

 

Policy Positions

Modern wireless infrastructure like a small cell can often be installed in about an hour or two. Yet it can cost thousands of dollars in fees and take more than a year to get government approval. That’s because many rules, regulations, and fees for wireless infrastructure applications are outdated, put in place when 200-foot tall cell towers were the norm.

The key to unlocking hundreds of billions of investment in new networks is a modernized siting framework based on:

  • Improved access to government facilities and rights-of-way
  • Reasonable and cost-based fees for new deployments
  • Updated approval timelines and more uniform standards
Small cell installation in Las Vegas
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Small cell installation in Las Vegas

Every level of government can play a role. Here’s how:

  • Federal. Policymakers can streamline the siting process on federal lands and provide clear direction regarding state and local authority on wireless infrastructure regulations.
  • States and Localities. Together, these governments can:
    1. Modernize their siting rules to ensure fair and reasonable access to government-owned utility poles and streetlights.
    2. Set reasonable and non-discriminatory fees that reflect the direct costs of deploying small cells.
    3. Update review processes to provide reasonable timelines and objective standards for siting applications.
    4. These reforms would also ensure that states and localities retain key roles regarding public safety, health, and welfare.
  • Tribal Nations. Tribal leaders can work with the FCC and the wireless industry on tribal review processes to help us better meet Americans’ demand for wireless while preserving culturally important sites for Tribal Nations.

Modernizing infrastructure rules will bring investment, jobs, and connectivity to communities across the country. In rural and hard-to-serve areas, these reforms may spur wireless deployment, helping bridge the digital divide.

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