T-Mobile to FCC: Speed up tower approval process

T-Mobile wants the FCC to help speed up the cumbersome process of getting permission from state and local governments to establish a tower or other facilities for wireless services.

In an ex-parte letter filed today (pdf) with the agency, T-Mobile said it takes too long to get approval to put up a new cell site. Wireless providers need more and more towers to meet the growing demand for wireless services.

The FCC has said it is interesting in speeding up that process. But T-Mobile said the agency should also ease the process when it applies to facilities for "backhaul service," or the high-capacity links that connect base stations or cell sites to mobile switching centers, and then connect to the public voice network and Internet. This service is also known as "special access."

"As mobile data and voice usage explodes, mobile carriers will need higher-capacity backhaul facilities on an ongoing basis. Almost all mobile carriers purchase backhaul from third-party suppliers...To meet growing demand for backhaul, third-party suppliers and mobile carriers will have to collocate or install new facilities such as microwave dishes, transmitters, and towers and, in many cases, will have to obtain authorizations from state and local governments for backhaul facilities siting and collocation," the company wrote in the filing.

Sprint Nextel has also voiced the need for more access to shared facilities.