Bipartisan legislation introduced last week aims to eliminate federal reviews of wireless infrastructure projects if they are located in areas cleared by previous government evaluations.
Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., on Friday detailed the SPEED Act — or Streamlining Permitting to Enable Efficient Deployment of Broadband Infrastructure.
The measure would exempt telecom equipment installations from environmental and historic reviews if they are placed in “public right-of-ways” that are already home to telecom infrastructure.
The lawmakers argued that those sites already underwent federal review processes and that current regulations can stifle the deployment of next-generation networks in rural and urban communities alike.
“New advances in telehealth, online education, precision agriculture and other internet applications demand faster, better broadband connections,” Wicker said in a statement. “It is time for the federal government to recognize the realities of a modern digital economy and accommodate the needs of American consumers.”
The legislation also outlined exemptions for small cells and wireless services if they conform to previous height requirements. Companies that qualify for the exemptions would still be required to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act, the lawmakers said.
The bill, in addition, would require federal agencies to develop reports about expanding broadband infrastructure and high-speed internet access on federal lands.
Wireless groups, including CTIA and the Competitive Carriers Association, praised the measure and said it would bolster industry investment in 5G networks.
“Quick passage of this legislation will improve access to jobs, education and healthcare for Americans in rural and urban communities in Mississippi and Nevada, and across the country,” CTIA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Kelly Cole said in a statement.
Filed Under: Industry regulations