Coming Soon To Smartphones: 5G


The FCC in early August announced that it would move forward with a plan to bring 5G wireless services to consumers across the U.S.

The advancement in wireless services will require new infrastructure needed to provide the service, namely the deployment of more antennae — and smaller antennae — than the large towers used to provide 4G and traditional mobile services.

The FCC’s agreement with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACPH) and National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO) removes the historic preservation review process for small cells, distributed antennae systems (DAS), and other small networking equipment.

This was met with considerable favor by Tom Struble, policy counsel for TechFreedom, which describes itself as a nonprofit, non-partisan technology policy think tank that “works to chart a path forward for policymakers towards a bright future where technology enhances freedom, and freedom enhances technology.”

“Wireless providers already face a staggering backlog in getting permission from local governments for building and upgrading 4G towers,” Struble says. “That process has to be simplified for Americans to enjoy faster 5G service.”

TThe historic and environmental review processes for assessing the impact of proposed sitings can be long and arduous. “They make some sense for major projects, like siting a traditional cell tower,” says Struble. “Small cells and DAS, by contrast, typically just attach a small antenna atop existing infrastructure, and thus are unlikely to pose any significant impact on historic sites. Historical review imposes a time-consuming, burdensome, and pointless approval process that is inappropriate for this situation, and would only hinder 5G deployment.”

Struble founded TechFreedom in 2014 after serving as a Legal Intern at the Competitive Carriers Association. He has also been a legal intern in the mobility division of the FCC’s Wireless Telecom Bureau.

“The FCC has been so busy trying to seize new regulatory powers, it’s not paid nearly enough attention to problems like this one,” Struble concludes. “But better late than never. Consumers all over America will benefit from this deal — a crucial step towards ensuring that the U.S. retains its position as a global leader in mobile infrastructure and the apps and services built for high-speed wireless.”