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ALERT: Wireless Providers May Be Sending Misleading Letter to Cities to Sign

Posted By IAMU, Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU) wants to let members know that some wireless providers may be asking city officials to “sign on” to a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). IAMU and the National League of Cities, strongly urge city officials not to sign on to the letter.

According to the National League of Cities, at least two wireless providers have been reaching out to local leaders asking that they sign on to/send a letter to the FCC urging federal rulemaking on small cell wireless facilities siting. The letter is being pitched to city officials as a way to show support for the growth and potential of 5G technology. However, the wireless industry is using the letter to demonstrate city support for FCC rulemaking that would harm cities. The FCC can and likely may use the letters to justify preemption. Initially, the rulemaking may sound reasonable, particularly to those unfamiliar with small cell preemption issues, but the rulemaking likely would be used to undercut local authority.

“IAMU strongly urges you or your local leaders to decline any requests to sign any letter from a wireless provider regarding FCC federal rulemaking on small cell wireless facilities siting,” said Tim Whipple, IAMU General Counsel. “If you have any questions, please reach out to us. IAMU is here to support your community’s best interests.”

See below for an example of the language in this sample letter. Several cities across the country have already filed versions of these letters with the FCC. Again, IAMU strongly urges you to decline any requests to sign this letter. If you or your city is interested in filing something with the FCC in support of local authority, please contact IAMU.

An excerpt from the misleading letter:

“As mayor of (city), I know that technology fosters ingenuity and economic growth in our cities and towns. That is why it’s critical we work together to bring small cells and, ultimately, 5G to cities across the nation. Your efforts to create model infrastructure rules that expedite small cell deployment while retaining reasonable protections for city rights-of-way should be applauded.

Expediting small wireless facility deployment is critical to delivering wireless access to advanced technology, broadband, and 911 services to residences, businesses, and schools. At the same time, cities should establish a fair and predictable process that retains protections for rights-of-way. A smart small cell policy should include:

  • Comprehensive but transparent guidelines;
  •  Reasonable compensation; and
  •  Expedited yet thorough review timeline.

Through a thoughtful approach to small cells, some cities are working diligently to pave the way for the future while protecting the needs of the city. While some cities have moved quickly, others may benefit form a model policy that accelerates small cell deployments while retaining fair and reasonable protections for cities.

Working together we can provide a smart policy that fosters the technology needs of tomorrow and protecting the rights of cities throughout the country.

Thank you for your efforts to help ensure our cities remain competitive and encourage ongoing investment in our future.”

Questions about the letter or what you should do? Contact Tim Whipple, IAMU General Counsel, at 515.289.1999 or

Tags:  legislative  member alert  small cell 

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