Jonathan Adelstein, the newly minted president and CEO of wireless infrastructure trade association PCIA, said his main priority is making sure the policy victories the group has achieved in recent years turn into measurable progress for the industry.
Adelstein is a former FCC commissioner and former administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service. In an interview with FierceWireless ahead of the start of PCIA's annual conference this week in Orlando, Fla., Adelstein said he is still acclimating himself to his new role. However, he said he will try to build on the victories PCIA achieved under his predecessor, Mike Fitch.
One of the biggest of those achievements is what is known as "collocation-by-right" for the deployment of infrastructure. Congress in February passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which in part authorizes collocation-by-right. The relevant section states that a state or local government "may not deny, and shall approve, any eligible facilities request for a modification of an existing wireless tower or base station that does not substantially change the physical dimensions of such tower or base station."
"Having these victories still requires that we translate these into progress on the ground," Adelstein said. He said PCIA will lobby to make sure that provision is enforced as wireless carriers look to make changes to existing infrastructure by adding or modifying antennas and other equipment.
Adelstein said that the collocation provision is already having a positive effect on the infrastructure industry. He said it would allow more wireless carriers to add equipment to existing cell sites, which gives more revenue to tower companies and allows carriers to share infrastructure.
"Infrastructure sharing is essential to a cost effective and speedy solution to this national priority," he said, noting that the same thinking is true for both public-safety networks and commercial ones. "The most efficient way to build and expand wireless infrastructure is on a shared basis. The cost of occupancy for carriers on shared towers is much less. That expands capacity at a lower cost for carriers."
The PCIA will also be working to build on the FCC's November 2009 ruling to give states and localities a so-called "shot clock" for tower siting applications. The rules state there is a deadline of 90 days to process applications for co-located facilities, where two or more providers share the tower, and 150 days for new towers. Adelstein also said the organization will work to ensure that an executive order aimed at speeding up the deployment of wireless infrastructure for mobile broadband on public lands is carried out.
Another hot topic likely to emerge at the PIA show is T-Mobile USA's decision to sell the rights to 7,200 of its towers to Crown Castle for $2.4 billion. The sale could prompt more speculation about the fate of carrier-owned towers going forward.
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