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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: June 6, 2019 12:50 PM
From: Representative Frank A. Farry and Rep. Peter Schweyer
To: All House members
Subject: Wireless Small Cell Siting Legislation
We will be introducing new legislation to provide for the uniform, efficient and predictable regulation of small wireless antennas to improve the provisioning and deployment of the next generation of high-speed wireless broadband throughout the Commonwealth. Based on discussions with municipal associations and other stakeholders last session, we have made changes to the bill introduced last year in order to address those organizations’ concerns.

Wireless communication services have become an integral part of our everyday lives. Public safety, security, education, entertainment, health care, fitness and finance all depend on a robust, modern wireless network. Our lives at home, work and school are more connected than ever due to the proliferation of wireless services.

Today, over half of Pennsylvanians have cut their traditional landline and communicate solely through their wireless device. More than 70% of all 911 calls are now made from wireless devices. Additionally, the rate of wireless data transmission continues to experience exponential growth, with estimates that by 2019, mobile data traffic will be nearly six times what it was just three years ago. Wireless companies report that data traffic on their network has increased over 470,000% in the past 12 years.

In order to meet those ever-growing demands, the wireless industry is deploying “Small Cell” facilities in our Commonwealth. However, because investment decisions are made municipality by municipality, wireless providers may face varying and inconsistent fees and procedures that could slow their ability to deploy this new and modern infrastructure. With an array of municipal ordinances governing wireless infrastructure siting, compliance could be time-consuming and costly.

Late last year, the FCC approved an order streamlining the process for the installation of small cells. While legal challenges have been filed, stays were not granted and the order went into effect in mid-January. Our legislation builds on that action and provides additional certainty and implementation guiderails specific to Pennsylvania that are intended to benefit all parties. Our legislation preserves local government authority over zoning and land use, including the ability to approve or deny wireless infrastructure siting permit applications consistent with common-sense limitations. It also provides protections to municipalities to ensure that smaller staffs will not be overwhelmed with small cell applications. Our legislation is a balanced approach that encourages wireless providers to deploy the most modern infrastructure for our constituents while maintaining local government authority over their rights-of-way.

Please join us in cosponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB1400