An effort to create uniform wireless equipment permitting across Maryland ran aground last week after industry groups and local elected officials could not reach an agreement.
State Sen. Thomas Middleton, D-Waldorf, introduced legislation that would establish standard permit processes for small cell installations, but he told The Washington Post that he withdrew the bill and cancelled a hearing on the matter because it was unlikely to move forward in time for the legislature to act on it.
“As far apart as the jurisdictions are with the telecommunications companies, it’s hard to imagine we’d get anything resolved,” Middleton told the paper, noting that the state’s General Assembly wraps up next month.
Supporters of the effort want Maryland to join more than a dozen other states to enact statewide small cell standards, which the wireless industry argues is needed to facilitate the building of next-generation networks in a timely fashion.
Local governments, however, have generally opposed those efforts, which they believe improperly usurp their authority over zoning.
Hans Riemer, the president of the council in suburban D.C. Montgomery County, told the paper that county and municipal governments should keep the ability to ensure newly installed small cells aren’t unnecessary, low-quality or ugly.
And although the issue appears off the table in the current session, Riemer warned the debate is “far from over.” Industry groups, wireless and tower companies and local authorities indicated they would continue to discuss how best to bring faster networks to the state.
“It is possible to modernize infrastructure deployment while preserving local authority,” Jamie Hastings, the SVP of external and state affairs for industry group CTIA, told the Post.
Filed Under: Industry regulations