2009 FCC WT Docket 08-165


Petition for Declaratory Ruling to Clarify Provisions of Section 332(c)(7)(B) to Ensure Timely Siting Review and to Preempt Under Section 253 State and Local Ordinances that Classify All Wireless Siting Proposals as Requiring a Variance

Adopted: November 18, 2009


1. This Declaratory Ruling by the Commission promotes the deployment of broadband and other wireless services by reducing delays in the construction and improvement of wireless networks. Wireless operators must generally obtain State and local zoning approvals before building wireless towers or attaching equipment to pre-existing structures. To encourage the expansion of wireless networks, Congress has required these entities to act “within a reasonable period of time” on such requests. In many cases, delays in the zoning process have hindered the deployment of new wireless infrastructure. Accordingly, today we define timeframes for State and local action on wireless facilities siting requests, while also preserving the authority of States and localities to make the ultimate determination on local zoning and land use policies

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70. In its Comments and Cross-Petition, EMRPI contends that in light of additional data that has been compiled since 1996, the RF safety regulations that the Commission adopted at that time are no longer adequate.1 EMRPI is asking us to revisit the Commission’s previousdecision that the scientific evidence did not support the establishment of guidelines to address the non-thermal effects of RF emissions. 2 This request is also outside the scope of the current proceeding, and we therefore dismiss EMRPI’s Cross-Petition

CONCLUSION 71. For the reasons discussed above, we grant in part and deny in part CTIA’s Petition for a Declaratory Ruling interpreting provisions of Section 332(c)(7) of the Communications Act. In particular, we find that a “reasonable period of time” for a State or local government to act on a personal wireless service facility siting application is presumptively 90 days for collocation applications and presumptively 150 days for siting applications other than collocations, and that the lack of a decision within these timeframes constitutes a “failure to act” based on which a service provider may commence an action in court under Section 332(c)(7)(B)(v).

We also find that where a State or local government denies a personal wireless service facility siting application solely because that service is available from another provider, such a denial violates Section 332(c)(7)(B)(i)(II). By clarifying the statute in this manner, we recognize Congress’ dual interests in promoting the rapid and ubiquitous deployment of advanced, innovative, and competitive services, and in preserving the substantial area of authority that Congress reserved to State and local governments to ensure that personal wireless service facility siting occurs in a manner consistent with each community’s values.


72. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Sections 4(i), 4(j), 201(b), 253(a), 303(r), and 332(c)(7) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i), (j), 201(b), 253(a), 303(r), 332(c)(7), and Section 1.2 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.2, the Petition for Declaratory Ruling filed by CTIA—The Wireless Association IS GRANTED to the extent specified in this Declaratory Ruling and otherwise IS DENIED.

73. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant toSections 4(i), 4(j), and 332(c)(7) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i), (j), 332(c)(7), and Section 1.2 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.2, the Cross-Petition filed by the EMR Policy Institute IS DISMISSED.

  1. EMRPI Comments and Cross-Petition at 4. 

  2. Guidelines for Evaluating the Environmental Effects of Radiofrequency Radiation, ET Docket No. 93-62, Second Memorandum Opinion and Order and Notice of Proposed Rule Making,12 FCC Rcd 13494, 13505 ¶ 31 (1997), aff’d sub nom. Cellular Phone Taskforce v. FCC, 205 F.3d 82 (2d Cir. 2000), cert. denied sub nom.Citizens for the Appropriate Placement of Telecommunications Facilities v. FCC, 531 U.S. 1070 (2001).