Friday, May 31, 2019

FCC's Proposed Update to Over-the-Air Device Rule Would Boost 5G

The FCC is taking public comments on its proposal to facilitate 5G fixed wireless infrastructure by updating its rules for over-the-air-reception devices (OTARD). If adopted, the Commission's OTARD modernization proposal could clear away obstacles to placement of small fixed wireless infrastructure that is vital to deploying next-generation services. 

Based on Section 207 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Commission's OTARD rule prohibits State and local governments as well as private entities such as neighborhood and condo associations from imposing restrictions on installation, maintenance, or use of over-the-air reception devices. The rule applies antennas installed "on property within the user's exclusive use or control" or on property where the user has an ownership or leasehold interest. 

A 2000 order by the Commission applied the OTARD rule to antennas used for fixed wireless signals, but it expressly excluded "hub or relay antennas." The Commission's proposal would "extend the OTARD rule to cover the hub and relay antennas that previously were excluded from the OTARD framework."

Correctly, the Commission's proposed rulemaking recognizes: "The wireless infrastructure landscape has since shifted toward the development of 5G networks and technologies that require dense deployment of smaller antennas across provider networks in locations closer to customers." Sensibly, the Commission anticipates that its proposal, if adopted, would "allow fixed wireless providers to deploy hub and relay antennas more quickly and efficiently" and "help spur investment in and deployment of needed infrastructure."

The Commission's OTARD modernization proposal constitutes an important step in ensuring rapid deployment of 5G to all Americans and in furthering the U.S. position in the global race to 5G. The Commission should proceed full speed ahead on its worthy OTARD proposal.