FCC Offers “Guidance” on Sec. 6409(a)


As an aside, I note that the Commission did not consult with its own Intergovernmental Advisory Committee, much less advise them of the release of this Guidance in advance.

The Commission crafted its Section 6409(a) Guidance to provide the public its own view of how state and local governments should interpret the following self-created questions:

  1. What does it mean to “substantially change the physical dimensions” of a tower or base station?
  2. What is a “wireless tower or base station”?
  3. May a state or local government require an application for an action covered under Section 6409(a)?
  4. Is there a time limit within which an application must be approved?

I’ll let you read the Guidance for yourself (see link below)  to learn the Commission’s thoughts in response to its four questions.  I’m not going to get into my specific thoughts about the Guidance other than to say that it is flawed and overreaching in most areas covered.  The only bright light is that the Commission did recognize that carriers are not exempt or excused from following the state or local government application process  for collocations covered by Section 6409(a).

Importantly, however, there is about a 103% certainty that wireless carrier representatives will show up to local governments toting a copy of the Guidance misrepresenting it as the way that 6409(a) must be read and understood by those governments. That will be factually incorrect, but its tough for planners at “the counter” to critically evaluate a document bearing the FCC seal.  That critical evaluation and the inevitable challenges to the Guidance will be a job for attorneys and stakeholder organizations like NATOA.

At the end, the Commission’s Guidance is advisory only.  Given the fundamental omissions and differences in Section 6409(a) (some of which are acknowledged by the Commission), Section 6409(a) remains a moving target, as does compliance with that moving target.

Click here to read the FCC’s Guidance on 6409(a)


New Photos in Cell Tower Gallery

Last month I traveled to Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico to participate on a wireless law panel and to visit with friends.  While there I had a chance to take a series of new site photos in Santa Fe, and to add to the Twisted Tower photo collection.

Here are a few examples that are available for full size viewing in the celltowersites.com/gallery/

Santa Fe High School Light Standard Site
Two for Fore :: Santa Fe Country Club


The Twisted Tower of Albuquerque

With over 1,400 cell site and cell tower photos, our photo gallery is perhaps the finest online collection available anywhere.  To visit the gallery, just CLICK HERE.




lightRadio? Really?!

Bell Labs has unveiled its lightRadio cell site in a cube system.  It’s received a lot of press from around the world over the past few weeks about it being ‘THE NEXT BIG THINK TO KILL OFF TRADITIONAL CELL SITES.’

Well,  maybe not.

Digging a bit deeper into the apparent technology underpinning the system produces some interesting things to ponder.   To set the stage for what I think this lightRadio thing is all about, and how it fits into the grand scheme, first watch the video below of Tod Sizer, the head of the wireless group at Bell Labs, as he talks about developing the lightRadio antenna module. Then look at the chart below the video. When you’ve done that, then I’ll ‘resume’ this conversation.











As they say on TV, “Okay, we’re back…”

So what’s Mr. Sizer’s video tell us, and what does the chart mean?

Let’s start with Mr. Sizer’s video…  He talks about how the cubes can be stacked to provide directional signal control, similar to a macrocell site.  What’s not too clear is that each cube requires a backhaul connection using Internet Protocol (IP) back to…somewhere.  See the chart just above.

The deployment scheme is not too clear, but it sure looks like it has elements of DAS within it, or at least it seems closer to a DAS than it is to a self-contained macrocell or even a microcell.

Attention NextG, competition cleanup on aisle 5…

Given NextG’s history of suing where they believe someone is infringing on any shred of their DAS patents for network technology and deployment, I’ll just wait to see if they also think along the same lines I do regarding the possibility that the cube is really a micro DAS implementation.

This should be interesting, but it doesn’t appear to be the game-changer that the manufacturer would have us believe.

With apologies to Mr. Clemens, ‘Reports of macrocells’ deaths are greatly exaggerated.’