FCC votes to speed up cell tower sites

In its monthly meeting this morning, the Federal Communications Commission unanimously voted to impose a "shot clock" for siting tower applications, or the process wireless carriers must follow to install new wireless antennas and nodes on towers to expand cell phone networks.

CTIA, on behalf of the wireless industry, has been lobbying for this for some time. It told the FCC that it knows of 760 applications for new tower sites that have been waiting for responses by state and local governments for over a year. About 180 applications have been waiting for more than three years.

Commissioner Michael Copps said accelerating the process will help build out the wireless infrastructure needed to expand the reach of broadband. 

Commissioner Robert McDowell said he hopes the action will free up capital for wireless companies so they can install "immediate fixes," like new antenna systems and new technologies, that can maximize their spectrum holdings to get the most out of wireless networks.

He said it's necessary to "squeeze more efficiencies out of the airwaves" while the FCC takes on the much longer task of reviewing ways to reallocate spectrum.

The new timeframes mandated by the FCC are 90 days for "collactions," or adding a node to an existing tower site, and 150 days for other tower sitings.