Press Release

Public Knowledge Joins Amicus Brief Asking 9th Circuit to Invalidate FCC Order Weakening Local Oversight of Small Cells

June 19, 2019 , , ,

This week, Public Knowledge joined the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance in an amicus brief filing in a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission’s action to weaken local authority to manage streets and public property. The brief was filed in City of Portland v. FCC before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The FCC’s September 2018 Order on “Next Generation Wireless Infrastructure” concerns 5G and “small cell” deployment procedures where companies place wireless equipment on public property. This move forces localities to rent out space on traffic and light poles for well below market value, and jeopardizes local and state authority to ensure wireless deployments do not jeopardize public safety and are equitably deployed. Dozens of cities and counties have sued the Trump administration in response.

The following can be attributed to Phillip Berenbroick, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“Localities across the U.S. are doing important work to promote deployment of next-generation fixed and wireless broadband networks, including 5G, by ensuring that these networks are deployed equitably and are available to everyone. The FCC's action undermined local oversight of small cell deployments and replaced local decision-making on public safety, aesthetic, and the historic character of communities with the judgement of three FCC commissioners.

“The FCC should work with — not subvert — state, county, and municipal government efforts to provide broadband access for everyone, and especially to low-income, rural, and minority communities on the wrong side of the digital divide. Unfortunately, the FCC’s power grab is likely to delay small cell deployment and create unnecessary uncertainty regarding small cell deployments, and impede state and local efforts to ensure everyone has access to high-speed mobile broadband. The 9th Circuit should vacate the FCC’s Order.”

You may view the amicus brief here.