Not Over My Backyard: The Regulatory Conflict between 5G Rollout and Environmental and Historic Preservation
31 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2019
Date Written: July 26, 2019
The near-future rollout of the 5G cellular network will create new issues in how land is used for the placement of telecommunications equipment and infrastructure. As opposed to the large and widely-spaced antenna towers for previous networks, 5G will require hundreds of thousands of smaller transceivers, closely spaced together and placed on telephone poles, buildings, trees, and other possibly intrusive places.
In the United States, some localities have begun to resist the near-future proliferation of such facilities, and questions have arisen about conflicts with federal laws on environmental and historic preservation. In 2018, the Federal Communications Commission declared proactively that its own statutory responsibilities for rapid and unfettered development of networks will be applied to the 5G rollout, and all or most land use restrictions that may slow down the rollout will be preempted by telecommunications law.
This paper conducts a critical policy analysis of the FCC’s current policies toward the 5G rollout and any possible land use restrictions on the construction of 5G facilities, combined with traditional legal research on past jurisprudence on land use by telecommunications firms and how precedents can be applied to the near-future 5G rollout. The paper concludes that the current legal environment is stacked in favor of rapid rollout, and those who disfavor that rollout for environmental, safety, or aesthetic reasons will have little recourse with the FCC or the courts.
Keywords: 5G, cellular networks, telecommunications law, environmental law
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