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Virginia became the latest state to ease small cell siting rules when Governor Terry McAuliffe on Thursday signed a bill creating a uniform procedures for approval of wireless infrastructure.

The bill, S.B. 1282, states that localities can’t require special exceptions or special use permits for small cell facilities installed on existing structures where providers already have permission to co-locate equipment, and gives municipalities 10 days to notify carriers of an incomplete application and 60 days to either approve or deny applications. The measure also caps municipal fees at $100 each for up to five small cell facilities on an application and $50 for each facility thereafter. Fees for carrier use of municipal rights-of-way are prohibited, except for zoning, subdivision, site plan, and comprehensive plan fees related to the general application. Additionally, the bill instructs municipalities that “approval for a permit shall not be unreasonably conditioned, withheld, or delayed.”

McAuliffe said in a statement the move to provide a uniform procedure for siting approval would facilitate increased investment in the state. Accenture has forecast the wireless industry is looking to make “significant” infrastructure investments in the state, including $179 million in Richmond and $371 in Virginia Beach. All told, the investments are expected to create more than 6,000 jobs in the state as well as wider business benefits.

“I am proud to sign this new law placing Virginia at the forefront of all the economic benefits that will flow from even faster 5G Internet connections,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I have made it a top priority to spur investment and job opportunities across the Commonwealth, and this law will help deliver that goal whether through improved education opportunities, better healthcare delivery, or autonomous transportation systems.”

Telecom industry association CTIA praised McAuliffe’s support for “legislation that will boost business opportunity and enhance consumers’ lives.”

The measure is just the latest passed on the state level while the Federal Communications Commission mulls taking action of its own to streamline small cell deployments. More on the debate over federal intervention on the state and local level can be found here.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton last week signed into law a bill to streamline and standardize rules for small cell deployments.

"With this new law, Minnesota now has forward-looking rules that maintain the local control permitting process and will also allow for the acceleration of the deployment of next-generation high speed wireless infrastructure in the state," Minnesota Senator David Osmek commented. "5G is the wave of the future and we want to make sure Minnesota is at the forefront of emerging technologies."

U.S. wireless carrier AT&T said the measure would accelerate its deployment of small cells in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area,” especially as the company preps for the 2018 Super Bowl. That process, the carrier said, will include submitting “hundreds” of applications for small cells in the Twin Cities.

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