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Efforts to bring a uniform permitting process to the Golden State will go back to the drawing board.
Local officials in California backed Gov. Jerry Brown's veto of legislation that would have fixed the rates localities could charge for the placement of small cell wireless equipment on streetlights and other public infrastructure.
Senate Bill 649 proposed a uniform permitting process, but Brown's veto late Sunday sends efforts back to the drawing board.
"There is something of real value in having a process that results in extending this innovative technology rapidly and efficiently," Brown said in a statement. "Nevertheless, I believe that the interest which localities have in managing rights of way requires a more balanced solution than the one achieved in this bill."
San José Mayor Sam Liccardo was among those applauding the decision for stopping telecom companies from installing 5G and broadband infrastructure at below-market rates and without guarantees of servicing low-income and rural communities.
“I would welcome the opportunity to work with the bill sponsors, members of the legislature, local officials, as well as representatives from the telecom industry, to develop balanced policies that will promote speedy and equitable deployment of 5G service," Liccardo said in a statement. "We can reduce regulatory barriers and streamline permitting to aid the deployment of next-generation broadband service, while also ensuring that 5G deployment benefits the entire community–including the millions of Californians who remain on the wrong side of the digital divide.”
More than a few other local California officials celebrated their legislative win in Sacramento:
Debate is also ongoing at the federal level, where city- and county-level chief innovation, chief information and chief technology officers wrote the Federal Communications Commission in September warning of potential 5G providers’ efforts to secure access to public and private property on the cheap.
“Maximizing local flexibility is not only likely to result in more innovation, more deployment and more jobs, it is also likely to enable the development of deployment approaches that can begin to address privacy, data sharing, data use, cybersecurity, and equity issues surrounding the deployment of advanced networks in public spaces,” wrote the collective of 12 jurisdictions including officials from Austin, Boston and New York City. “We urge you not to regulate from the top down in a world where real innovation is occurring at local levels.”
Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.