Local Governments Blocking Expansion Of Georgia’s Communications Infrastructure

Broadband and wireless access is one of our major topics here at GeorgiaPol.  After all, it’s necessary for you to be able to read us.  One of the newer ways that this need is being filled is “small-cells“, which help expand cellular capacities and will be critical for the rollout of 5G service.

The issue is that many local governments are indifferent to this, and can literally take a year to approve basic permits, and/or add ridiculous surcharges that delay their deployments.  Representatives Brett Harrell, Bruce Williamson, Don Parsons, Chuck Martin, and John Carson have proposed HB 533 to streamline the process for this critical infrastructure upgrade. Similar bills have already passed in North Carolina and Florida.

The following guest Op-Ed was penned by NC Representative Jason Saine in support of Georgia’s measure, and discusses why Georgia, like his North Carolina, must be pro-active in making sure we’re not leaving undue regulatory obstacles in the way of keeping Georgia’s communications networks at the cutting edge. He was recently named the 2018 National Chair for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and has is a Public Leadership Award winner by the North Carolina Technology Association as well as a a member of the FCC Intergovernmental Advisory Committee.

Wireless connectivity is essential in our daily lives.

Businesses, teachers, students, parents, seniors, and your social media addicts, we all rely on connections that we carry with us everywhere. These connections have become so reliable, that when we experience even the slightest interruption or delay, we become easily frustrated.

Fortunately, private industry continues to invest and innovate in the infrastructure and the products that will make those interruptions and delays in connectivity less and less frequent.

Today, the telecom industry and federal regulators are working together to define the next generation of wireless connectivity – 5G – that will bring higher speeds and the ability for consumers to share more data more quickly.

Small Cells are an essential part of enhanced capacity and the evolution to 5G connectivity. They are compact, unobtrusive cells that fit on traffic lights and utility poles and are helping telecom providers to improve service by complementing more traditional cell towers and “densify” networks.

For consumers, small cell technology is truly a game changer.

Whether you are viewing a mobile video, sending an email or looking for a route around rush hour traffic, we all want fast, reliable connectivity. Investment in small cells and the fiber-optic backhaul that serves them is a key component in the quick and efficient growth of 5G availability.

Unfortunately, as telecom companies are diligently working to provide the connectivity consumers demand, they are also working within an environment that significantly restricts industry’s ability to invest and deploy the technology necessary to meet consumer needs.

Often times, in a rush to generate revenues, local governments fail to recognize their taxation, permitting, fees and other policies are significant contributors to broadband deployment challenges.

We have a serious failure in this sector of the economy when it takes a telecom provider approximately 8 hours to install a small cell, but it takes that same company more than 8 months to obtain the necessary permits and approvals to do the work.

The scales are egregiously tipped by burdensome regulations and approvals processes to favor bureaucracy and not the consumer.

It is imperative that this change.

That is why during the 2017 legislative session, my colleagues and I passed legislation establishing a framework for small cell deployment in communities across North Carolina.

Since the legislation was signed into law, North Carolina’s communities are better positioned to attract significant investments in technologies that will densify our networks today, help usher in 5G connectivity and spur the growth of smart cities applications across the state – applications that lead to local cost-savings and revenue generation.

And, now, Georgia is where North Carolina was last year. Two bills have been introduced for the Georgia Assembly’s consideration during the 2018 regular legislative session.

I encourage the members of the Georgia Assembly and state governments across the nation to help facilitate small cell deployment and herald the future of connectivity by clearing regulatory obstacles that stifle investment, limit economic growth and block the connectivity consumers are eager to experience.

The future of connectivity is close on the horizon. Industry leaders are already investing in the infrastructure that will make that future a reality. Georgia has an opportunity now to keep pace with North Carolina and be at the forefront of the technology sector by enacting legislation that will allow for the efficient and rapid deployment of small cell technology throughout the state.

After all, capital flows where it is treated best.


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