The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a proposed rule on April 12 to expedite deployment of wireless infrastructure by modernizing the Commission’s rule for over-the-air reception devices (OTARD). This is the FCC’s latest effort to facilitate broadband expansion and 5G technology to support the need for the United States to win in the race to full-scale deployment.
As reported previously, the FCC approved a highly-controversial and similar order last year that stripped away much of the ability of local governments to control the siting of 5G small cell infrastructure. By using OTARD to again speed infrastructure siting, the FCC appears to be moving the 5G and wireless infrastructure expansion debate from the public sphere and onto private property.
NMHC and NAA are consulting with apartment owners, operators and telecommunications experts to evaluate the impact of the proposed rule. Initial analysis indicates that this could be problematic for apartment firms of all sizes because it may encroach on property owners’ rights to control what and where wireless infrastructure can be sited. There is some concern that this will incentivize telecommunications providers to deploy technology within residents’ units or upon rooftops.
As we are currently evaluating the Proposed Rule – the timing for further action has yet to be determined. Once the Proposed Rule is published in the Federal Register, the industry will have 30 days to comment and then have an opportunity to file reply comments at a later date.
NMHC and NAA will continue to review this matter and will be formulating a plan to engage industry stakeholders, allied real estate organizations and other interested parties in hopes of educating the FCC about the need to preserve property rights and ensure that infrastructure deployment of any kind is done in cooperation with property owners. As we develop our case for this proposed change to expand OTARD, we welcome input from members on how such changes may impact apartment firms.
Additional information on NMHC and NAA’s efforts on telecommunications can be found at on our Telecommunications page.