FCC Requests Comments on Amended Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas

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The FCC has asked for comment on a proposed Amended Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas (Amended Collocation Agreement) to account for the limited potential of Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) and small cell facilities to affect historic properties. To fulfill its responsibilities under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the FCC incorporated the Section 106 requirements into its environmental rules and licensees and applicants must follow the two programmatic agreements, the Collocation Programmatic Agreement (Collocation Agreement) and the Nationwide Programmatic Agreement (NPA), to determine whether an undertaking will affect historic properties. The NPA covers new tower construction and the Collocation Agreement addresses collocations on existing towers, buildings, and other non-tower structures. Under the Collocation Agreement, most antenna collocations on existing structures are excluded from the historic preservation review, with defined exceptions to address potentially problematic situations. The subject proceeding relates to the Section 106 exclusions adopted by the FCC in 2015 in The Acceleration of Broadband Deployment by Improving Wireless Facilities Siting Policies for DAS and small cell deployments. In short, the Amended Collocation Agreement proposes additional exemptions for DAS and small cell collocations, where certain size and visibility requirements are met, for facilities that are mounted on buildings or non-tower structures or in the interior of buildings that are over 45 years of age, or are minimally visible on structures in Historic Districts or on Historic Properties. The FCC also proposes minor amendments to the Collocation Agreement including revisions to the preamble that: (1) defines its policy goals; (2) defines an Antenna; and (3) clarifies the definition of Collocation. The FCC proposes these amendments to enable the swift deployment of wireless broadband services, including 5G, while maintaining the role of states and Tribal Nations. Comments are due by June 13, 2016.

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