Brendan Carr is the FCC Commissioner assigned by Chairman Ajit Pai to oversee regulations that relate to wireless infrastructure deployment, a part of the industry that is highly dependent on interactions with government. But most of these interactions take place at the state and local levels, meaning there isn’t much the FCC can do to help the industry unless it overrides or preempts some state and local authority.
Carr appears willing to wrest some control from local jurisdictions. He said the issue he hears about most from the industry is the fees that jurisdictions charge for access to the public rights of way.
“Cities and municipalities need to be compensated for their costs, but the deployment itself in my mind is not what should be sort of a profit center or a moneymaking venture for cities,” Carr said. “That strips capital out of more deployment. So we are looking at a whole set of issues that comes to state and locals—I haven't made any final decisions yet about that ... but we're going to continue to be turning toward state and local and I expect that we'll be taking action there."
Carr has already taken action with respect to historic and environmental review procedures for cell sites. He spearheaded an order that was approved this spring by the FCC which will eliminate most environmental and historic preservation reviews for small cells and shorten them for many macro sites.
Carr was a telecom attorney in private practice before joining the FCC as an advisor and eventually a commissioner. He was nominated and confirmed to fill the seat vacated by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who left after the 2016 presidential election. Ajit Pai, who was already a commissioner, assumed the chairmanship and Carr filled the open spot on the Commission. Wheeler's term would have ended in June 2018, so the Senate needed to reconfirm Carr in order for him to retain his position.