Understanding the FCC’s Proposed Small Cell Order

Find Next Century Cities’ guide to the Order here(Note: This link has since been updated to reflect our newest guide to the Order as passed.) Find Next Century Cities’ complete list of small cell and 5G resources here

On September 5, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the text of an Order in its ongoing proceeding to streamline the rollout of infrastructure for broadband services, including small cells for 5G wireless service. The Order is expected to be adopted at the FCC’s September 26th meeting.

The Order is a blatant effort by the FCC to strengthen the hand of carriers in negotiations with local governments over small cell deployment and to limit the ability of local governments to negotiate in the public interest around small cells.

The good news is that the FCC has left local governments with some power and flexibility to enact reasonable regulations governing small cell deployments. With the right approach and partner, local governments have a higher hill to climb but can still negotiate win-win outcomes that benefit carriers while addressing citizens’ concerns.

Local governments should immediately take proactive steps to maintain their leverage in possible negotiations with carriers.

Next Century Cities has collaborated with Mark Del Bianco, Principal at the Law Office of Mark C. Del Bianco, to create a guide to the Order, available here. The guide breaks down the order and our understanding of its implications and anticipated effects on local control. Importantly, the guide also offers steps that municipalities can take now to proactively mitigate the order’s effects on current and future small cell agreements.

If you have questions about this order or would like to discuss further, please contact Next Century Cities at


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