The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) has announced the FCC’s signing of the First Amendment to the Nationwide Programmatic Agreement for the Collocation of Wireless Antennas (Amended Collocation Agreement) with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers. The Amended Collocation Agreement is intended to account for the limited potential of small wireless antennas and associated equipment, including Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) and small cell facilities, to affect historic properties. The Amended Collocation Agreement creates new exclusions from the FCC’s review process that requires licensees/applicants to consider effects on historic properties under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The FCC believes these new exclusions will help enable swift and responsible deployment of wireless broadband services, including 5G service offerings, while maintaining the role of States and Tribal Nations.
Among the new exclusions, and subject to certain conditions, the Amended Collocation Agreement excludes the following small wireless deployments from the Section 106 review process: (1) collocation of small wireless antennas and associated equipment on buildings and non-tower structures (regardless of age) if they are outside of historic districts and not on historic properties; (2) collocation of small or minimally visible wireless antennas and associated equipment on structures in historic districts or on historic properties; (3) collocation of small wireless antennas on utility poles or electric transmission towers in active use located inside or near a historic district; (4) replacements of small wireless antennas and associated equipment; and (5) collocations in the interior of buildings regardless of age. The WTB notes that this agreement affects only the FCC’s review process under Section 106 of the NHPA, and will not limit State and local governments’ authority to enforce their own historic preservation requirements, consistent with federal law, and that the terms of this Amended Collocation Agreement do not apply on tribal lands or preclude federally recognized Tribal Nations or Native Hawaiian Organizations from consulting directly with the FCC or its licensees.