Legal challenges to the FCC’s recent wireless order are mounting as cities challenge the FCC’s authority to preempt cities’ control over local rights-of-way. The FCC ruling limits the ability of local governments to establish aesthetic standards for wireless equipment placed on telephone poles and street lights and to set fees to place that equipment in what are publicly owned public rights-of-way.
"In coordination with the overwhelming majority of local jurisdictions that oppose this unprecedented federal intrusion by the FCC, we will be appealing this order, challenging the FCC's authority and its misguided interpretations of federal law," said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes in a press release.
Portland, OR filed a lawsuit against the FCC earlier this week.
Other major cities are expected to follow suit in the coming days and weeks, including New York City and Boston, as well as rural municipalities.
The FCC’s ruling that provoked these legal challenges could slow down next-generation wireless deployment, as cities and providers fight each other in court rather than sit down to negotiate agreements.
CWA has supported municipalities and local jurisdiction over public assets throughout the process. “Cities want to bring next-generation technology to their communities,” said Debbie Goldman, CWA Research Director. “At the same time, local authorities have the expertise and experience to tailor solutions to their communities' unique conditions and priorities. The Commission has taken away local governments' discretion to balance the needs of their communities. It has replaced the power of local elected officials with that of an unelected federal agency."
Cities will sue FCC to stop $2 billion giveaway to wireless carriers (Ars Technica, Oct. 3, 2018)
FCC overreach on deployment of next-generation wireless prevents cities from protecting public interest (Sept. 28, 2018)