If you use an iPhone and are looking for increased cellular internet speeds, your wait is nearing an end; 5G is just around the corner. But, 5G requires an entirely new infrastructure. What impact might that have on local land use regulations?
Recently, the iPhone JD commented on how the wireless industry has worked to eliminate local opposition to 5G infrastructure. To date, wireless cell technology has been based on huge towers with antennas 125 feet in the air which provides service for several miles. But it turns out that 5G will be different. 5G is much faster, but the signal doesn’t go nearly as far. So instead of a smaller number of tall towers, 5G will work with a large number of microcells placed about 500 feet apart, often on streetlights or utility poles and in refrigerator size boxes on the side of streets.
This issue is also making news (and perhaps new case law) at the national level. On April 27, 2018, Law360 published an article authored by Andrew Westney discussing the recent FCC ruling determined by a 3 to 2 vote. The ruling reinterpreted the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by ruling that the installation of the infrastructure required for 5G is not a “federal action” or an “undertaking” under those national environmental laws. That means no federal consultation is required. Without consultation requirements, local tribes who are to be treated as nations do not have opportunities for input that those federal laws normally allow.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out both on the national and local levels regarding land use and environmental compliance. If you have questions about land use or environmental matters, contact Will Dunaway at Clark Partington Attorneys at Law.