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House Lawmakers Split on FCC Timing for Move on 5G Networks (1)

June 2, 2020, 7:34 PMUpdated: June 2, 2020, 10:17 PM

House Democrats are urging the Federal Communications Commission to delay a planned action aimed at fostering 5G networks, a day after GOP lawmakers applauded the move.

The agency June 9 plans to consider a declaratory ruling and notice of proposed rulemaking aimed at fostering 5G deployments. The declaratory ruling would, among other things, clarify that environmental assessments aren’t required before existing wireless structures are modified, if the FCC and other parties have an agreement on mitigating impacts on historic properties.

Twenty-four Democrats, including House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), said the agency should delay the move during the Covid-19 pandemic, in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

“We are especially troubled by the burden responding to this Declaratory Ruling will place on local governments that are justifiably focused right now on combatting the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” the Democrats wrote.

House Republicans had backed the move Monday in their own letter to Pai.

“Reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens to promote broadband deployment is a top priority,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s ranking member, and 22 other GOP lawmakers wrote.

The 5G upgrade order is the commission’s most recent effort to increase the deployment of networks that Americans have increasingly relied upon as they stayed home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

(Updated to include Democratic letter to FCC)

To contact the reporter on this story: Julia Weng in Washington at jweng@bloombergindustry.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Hughes at jhughes@bloomberglaw.com; Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com