Link To S4WT / Sen. Thune Introduces Discriminatory and Preemptive Small Cell Bill
Suggested Edit of National League of Cities Letter Template Text
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As a city leader and a constituent, I am writing to express my strong opposition to the “Streamlining The Rapid Evolution And Modernization of Leading-edge Infrastructure Necessary to Enhance (STREAMLINE) Small Cell Deployment Act” (S. 3157). This bill represents a direct affront to traditionally-held local authority and will complicate, rather than simplify, national efforts to expedite infrastructure deployment by mucking up state and local processes. My city shares Congress’s goal of ensuring efficient, safe, and appropriate deployment of broadband technology — either fiber optic and wireless, where appropriate. However, this S.3157 is not the best way to achieve these goals. Despite encouraging “technology-neutral” infrastructure, the bill is much too heavily-weighted toward Wireless installations over Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) which is a much more energy-efficient, safe, secure, reliable and fast broadband solution — a solution that can easily add Wi-Fi calling for in-building coverage.
S.3157 will complicate the existing efforts by state and local governments to deploy the most appropriate broadband infrastructure for their local communities. Some US states have passed State legislation specifically addressing the deployment of broadband infrastructure, and the local governments in those states are busy implementing new ordinances and procedures to comply with those changes. This unnecessary bill introduces a poorly-conceived one-size-fits-all preemption of those efforts to benefit only Wireless installations, when little data exists to determine which broadband strategies (Wireless vs FTTP) are most effective.
S.3157 imposes unfair and inappropriate timelines on local governments. The shot clocks proposed by S.3157 are draconian. They are considerably shorter than those the federal government applied to itself in the bipartisan MOBILE NOW Act. The reduced size per installation of small cell infrastructure does not directly translate to an accordingly reduced procedural burden on local governments. Cities must still review each site individually to ensure that it meets the local jurisdiction’s requirements. Further, the limited extension for small jurisdictions and bulk requests of over fifty applications does not address these resource challenges for states and localities.
Finally, limiting fees and rates to direct and actual costs is an extreme overreach by the federal government. Cities negotiate with providers to ensure appropriate compensation to taxpayers for private, profit-generating use of public property and to incentivize development that benefits community residents. In some cases, state constitutions’ prohibition on gifts to private entities prohibit cities from assessing less than a fair market value for rental of public property. When cities are prohibited from controlling these rates, they are forced to subsidize private development, at the cost of other critical local services such as road maintenance and public safety.
For these reasons, I am opposed to S. 3157 and urge you not to support it. Local governments should have the time and flexibility to ensure that the broadband infrastructure most appropriate to each locality is deployed not just quickly, but safely and correctly, in communities throughout the nation.