The FCC on Friday announced that it has adopted a report and order to streamline and eliminate outdated provisions of the Part 17 rules governing the construction, marking and lighting of antenna structures.
The Commission said that the order adopted today puts the FAA in charge of overseeing rules regarding the marking and lighting of cell towers so that planes can see them. It also makes changes to Commission rules such as allowing tower owners to provide tenants with antenna structure registration (ASR) information via mail, email or other electronic methods.
"Additionally, the Order streamlines rules regarding the maintenance of tower lighting and marking by exempting tower structures that employ robust, continuous monitoring systems from the requirement for quarterly physical inspections of lighting systems," the Commission explained in a statement.
A number of entities, including PCIA, the Wirleess Infrastructure Association, have bemoaned current regulations around cell towers as inefficient and inhibiting growth.
Jonathan Adelstein, President and CEO of PCIA, applauded the changes, which he said remove costly redundant regulatory requirements.
"PCIA has encouraged the FCC for many years to revise these outdated regulations, and long ago demonstrated how technological advances in the wireless infrastructure industry are strengthening air navigation safety," Adelstein wrote, noring that PCIA’s members have spent tens of millions of dollars on lighting inspections since 2007, despite the fact that the industry has adopted video monitoring at cell sites that can remotely ensure things are in working order.
During an appearance at PCIA's annual conference back in May, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai acknowledged problems with some of the FCC's rules.
“Regulations can make it tough to deploy infrastructure,” Pai said during a speach at the event, lamenting the fact that state and local municipalities decisions are often governed by antiquated one-size-fits-all rules and laws.
The Wireless Association Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Scott Bergmann also released a statement in favor of the new order.
"Congress, the Administration and this Commission all have recognized the vital need to facilitate wireless infrastructure deployment," he wrote. "Once those towers are in operation, sensible changes to modernize regulations regarding the maintenance of those towers are essential to enabling wireless tower owners to keep pace with consumer demand and continue the economic growth made possible through the expanding mobile ecosystem.”