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   VERY IMPORTANT! FACT SHEETS  




WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS BUREAU FACT SHEETS 1 AND 2

 

CELLTOWER SITING FACT SHEETS YOU SHOULD READ AND KNOW

WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS BUREAU FACTS SHEETS HOLD ANSWERS TO SOME OF YOUR MOST PRESSING QUESTIONS

 

By Jane Celltower

Here are a few highlights from Fact Sheet 2, as provided by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.  Education and knowledge will enable you to present your case, as well as inform small city, county, alike, with the basic fundamental facts concerning wireless communications, and the siting (location site), of cell phone towers.  The information contained within these two fact sheets, will provide easy to read information, that will answer some of your most pressing questions.  As is always the case, the information provided should be the catalyst to your own research, education, and knowledge.  Most especially in regards to RF emissions, and health issues.

 

Website links: 

INFORMATION FACT SHEETS 1, AND 2, OF THE WIRELSS TELECOMMUNICATIONS BUREAU - SITING POLICIES

http://wireless.fcc.gov/siting/fact1.html

http://wireless.fcc.gov/siting/fact2.pdf

 

Highlights provided by Jane Celltower...

6. Does the Commission maintain any records on the locations of personal wireless

structures throughout the United States?

Answer: The Commission maintains site information on antenna structures that may affect air

navigation, including (1) antenna structures located over 200 feet above ground, and (2) antenna

structures that are in close proximity to airport runways. Antenna structures that do

not exceed 20 feet above existing landscape or buildings, however, are not included. Site

information for structures built prior to July 1, 1996, is contained in the Commission's "tower file"

database. Site information for structures built after July 1, 1996, as well as an increasing number

of structures built before that date, is contained in the Commission's "antenna registration"

database. The registration database will contain all the tower file information by July 1998.

Additionally, the Commission's cellular and SMR licensing databases contain some site

information for base stations in those services.

For a fee, you can request a search of the tower file or antenna registration databases through

International Transcription Service, Inc. (ITS), 2100 M Street, N.W., Suite 140, Washington, DC

20037, at (202) 857-3800. You may also view the antenna registration database on-line using the

Commission's ASR Electronic Filing/Viewing Software. For more information on this software,

please call (800) 322-1117.

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The cellular and SMR databases are available for on-line viewing in the Public Reference Room of

the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau's Commercial Wireless Division, located on the fifth

floor of 2025 M Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20554. For more information, you may contact

the Reference Room at (202) 418-1350. You may also obtain on-line access from a remote

location, by contacting Interactive Systems, Inc., 1601 North Kent Street, Suite 1103, Arlington,

VA 22209, at (703) 812-8270. However, because PCS licensees are issued a blanket license for

their entire geographic area, the Commission does not maintain any information in its databases

on the specific locations of any PCS base stations, unless they fall into the categories listed above.

7. Some people consider personal wireless service facilities to be unsightly. Is there some

way to make these structures blend in with their surroundings?

Answer: Antennas for personal wireless services can sometimes be mounted on existing

structures such as building roof tops, church steeples, street lights, traffic lights, or electric utility

substations, where they are relatively unobtrusive. Painting antenna structures to blend in with

the existing structure is also an effective camouflage. Camouflaging of antennas is also used to

accommodate highly specialized land use concerns. For example, a personal wireless service

provider seeking to locate a transmitter site in a historic district may consider camouflaging the

antenna in such structures as clock towers or artificial trees. Such camouflaging is, however,

expensive and time consuming and most service providers are reluctant to routinely use the

camouflage option.

ZONING ISSUES

8. What types of information exchanges should occur at the beginning of the local

zoning process that would be helpful both to local and state governments and to

personal wireless service providers?

Answer: From the perspective of the local and state governments, it is helpful for the wireless

service provider to supply as much advance information as possible about the nature of its service

offerings and the "big picture" plan for service deployment. Local zoning authorities have a

strong interest in becoming fully informed about exactly what they are authorizing, and what will

be the long-term effects of facilities siting on land use in their communities. Many personal

wireless service providers have found it helpful to organize seminars aimed at acquainting local

zoning authorities with their services. Community outreach is also a productive way for new

wireless service providers to pave the way for introduction of their offerings. Personal wireless

service providers may be able to expedite the zoning authorization process if they target, where

possible, site locations that are compatible with the proposed use, such as industrial zones, utility

rights of way and pre-existing structures.

From the perspective of the personal wireless service provider, knowing what to expect in the

zoning process is the primary concern. Therefore, state and local authorities should endeavor to

provide wireless service providers with a clear picture of the zoning authorization process in

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advance. It is also helpful for zoning authorities to share information about their land use

priorities to determine where and how wireless service facilities fit into the plans. Finally, keep in

mind that wireless telecommunications systems are very dynamic. Personal wireless services are

thus designed to respond quickly to customer demands which may change dramatically as a result

of the construction of new highways and roads and the development of new residential and

business communities.

9. How do personal wireless service providers approach state and local governments to

request authorization to construct, place or modify their facilities?

Answer: A personal wireless service provider may have an internal antenna facilities siting team

which seeks potential sites for the company's own needs, or it may hire an independent contractor

to seek potential sites. Some of these independent facilities siting companies may be working on

behalf of more than one Commission licensee at a time, or they may not be seeking sites for any

Commission licensees at all. The local zoning authorities should therefore be aware that a

facilities siting company may not be seeking the sites that are of most interest to particular

Commission licensees, but rather seek general sites on highly elevated locations in the hopes of

leasing the sites, in turn, to Commission licensees.

10. Can personal wireless service providers share common structures to house their

transmitters?

Answer: Yes, it is possible for these entities to share structures. Sharing of structures by several

wireless service providers is typically referred to as "collocation." The Commission encourages

collocation of antenna structures to the extent technologically feasible, and recommends that local

zoning authorities engage the parties in cooperative efforts to chart the potential overlap of

desirable locations, in order to minimize the number of antenna structures to be sited. It has also

been our experience that personal wireless service providers are responsive to positive incentives

to collocate, such as, for example, processing the zoning application of a collocating facility more

quickly. There are, however, limitations on collocation, and it should not be viewed as a

complete solution to all land use concerns associated with the deployment of personal wireless

services.

First, there are physical limitations on how many transmitters a single structure can sustain.

Different tower structures have different structural tolerances. In general, there are other

technical issues that the service provider must consider, including the evaluation of interference

and compliance with the Commission's RF emissions criteria. In addition, personal wireless

services will deploy a variety of technologies that will require differing site configurations to

provide subscribers with quality service. It is also important to note that as additional service

providers enter the market, they will tailor their offerings to market demands that remain

unsatisfied, so that while the first two providers in the community may be able to share a site

because they seek to provide similar service to a similar market, the third provider may require a

new site configuration because it intends, for example, to provide wireless Internet access to the

9

community's educational institutions. For this third provider, collocation with the first two

providers may therefore be technically or economically problematic. Additionally, because

collocation groups many pieces of equipment on a single structure, collocation may result in

larger and more obtrusive and unsightly structures than multiple, discrete installations of

individual antennas and transmitters.

It should also be kept in mind that personal wireless service providers are fierce competitors that

are often deploying the first commercial use of a particular technology. As a result, the providers

may be unwilling to share their siting plans, particularly actual site locations, because they

consider these plans proprietary business information, or they may be reluctant to engage in group

discussions with their competitors about siting because such conduct could be viewed as

anticompetitive.

Finally, because these services are new technologies, it will be difficult to predict the exact

location of all sites at the time of initial service deployment, and adjustments may be necessary

along the way. New technologies also present unique technical challenges. Attempts by state and

local governments to "reengineer" these new technologies and service offerings may have

unpredictable effects on service quality and coverage. At the same time, the new law recognizes

the legitimacy of local zoning and land use concerns. Service providers and local zoning

authorities are thus encouraged to work together to develop ways to protect the proprietary

nature of siting plans yet still yield information that can be useful to local zoning authorities for

developing overall zoning plans for personal wireless facilities.

11. How quickly must state or local zoning authorities process applications for new

personal wireless antenna structures?

Answer: Section 704 of the 1996 Act states that local authorities are required to act upon an

application for a facility site within a reasonable period of time. The Conference Report

accompanying Section 704 explains that the "nature and scope" of each request should be taken

into account. The Conference Report further explains that "[i]f a request for placement of a

personal wireless facility involves a zoning variance or a public hearing or comment process, the

time period for rendering a decision will be the usual period under such circumstances. It is not

the intent of this provision to give preferential treatment to the personal wireless service industry

in the processing of requests, or to subject their requests to any but the generally applicable time

frame for zoning decision."

Some state and local governments have adopted, or have considered adopting, "freezes" on the

processing of facilities siting applications in anticipation of an increase in applications for personal

wireless antenna structures. Many state or local governments believe that such freezes or

moratoria are necessary because they are being asked to evaluate long-term land use issues

without having relevant ordinances in place, and in some instances without the information they

need to make these types of global assessments. Freezes of this nature are not looked upon

favorably by personal wireless service providers because the providers are generally concerned

10

that moratoria (especially those that are open-ended or renewable) cause uncertainty and

disruption to their business plans. In addition, wireless service providers find the lack of certainty

amplified when it is not clear exactly what the state or local government is accomplishing during

the moratorium other than not processing their applications.

While the issue of whether moratoria are consistent with Section 704 is being developed in the

courts, the Conference Report provides some guidance: "It is the intent of this section that bans

or policies that have the effect of banning personal wireless services or facilities not be allowed

and that decisions be made on a case-by case basis." Moratoria may have a disproportionate

impact on some personal wireless service providers, who may be effectively blocked from entering

the market during the pendency of the freeze, or may be inhibited from further deployment or

improvement of existing service. For one court's opinion on this issue, see Sprint Spectrum, L.P.

v. City of Medina, 924 F. Supp. 1036 (W.D. Wash. 1996).

In certain instances, state and local governments may benefit from a brief, finite period of

consideration in order to set up a process for the orderly handling of facilities siting requests.

These brief periods of consideration may be most effective if the state or local government

communicates clearly to wireless service providers the specific duration of the moratorium, the

tasks that the local governmental entity intends to accomplish during the moratorium and the

ways in which the wireless service providers can help the local government to achieve the stated

goals of the moratorium by, for example, providing additional information about their needs and

about their services.

12. If the state or local zoning authorities deny applications for personal wireless antenna

structures, must the decisions be in writing?

Answer: Yes. Section 704 of the 1996 Act mandates that the decision must be in writing, and

supported by substantial evidence contained in a written record. The Conference Report explains

that "substantial evidence contained in a written record" means "the traditional standard used for

judicial review of agency actions." For one court's opinion on this issue, see BellSouth Mobility

Inc., v. Gwinnett County, No. 1:96-cv-1268-GET (N.D. Ga. Aug. 13, 1996).

13. Section 704 states that state or local governments may not unreasonably discriminate

among providers of functionally equivalent services. What types of state and local

governmental actions constitute unreasonable discrimination?

Answer: It appears that what constitutes "reasonable" discrimination among providers will be

developed in the courts on a case-by-case basis. However, Congress' Conference Report

accompanying Section 704 provides some guidance as well, explaining that the intent of the

conferees is "to ensure that a State or local government does not in making a decision regarding

the placement, construction and modification of facilities of personal wireless services . . .

unreasonably favor one competitor over another." The Conference Report further explains the

intent of the conferees is to "provide localities with the flexibility to treat facilities that create

11

different visual, aesthetic, or safety concerns differently to the extent permitted under generally

applicable zoning requirements even if those facilities provide functionally equivalent services.

For example, the conferees do not intend that if a State or local government grants a permit in a

commercial district, it must also grant a permit for a competitor's 50-foot tower in a residential

district." As a general matter, there appears to be an expectation that state and local governments

should endeavor to avoid making land use decisions that give one personal wireless service

provider a competitive advantage over another. For one court's opinion on this issue, see

Westel-Milwaukee Co., Inc. v. Walworth County, No. 95-2097, 1996 WL 496670 (Wis. Ct. App.

Sept. 4, 1996).

14. What should I do if the state or local government has acted inconsistently with Section

704, and I have been adversely affected?

Answer: If the state or local governmental action is inconsistent with Section 704, and you are

adversely affected by such action, you may appeal the zoning authority's decision to a court of

competent jurisdiction. Congress' Conference Report which accompanied Section 704 states that

such actions may be filed in the federal district court in which the facilities are located or a State

court of competent jurisdiction, at the option of the party appealing the decision. Section 704

also requires that such action be filed in court within 30 days after the state or local government

acts or fails to act, and courts are directed to rule expeditiously on such cases.

If the decision of a state or local government authority which adversely affects you is based on the

environmental effects of radiofrequency emissions, such decision may be appealed to the courts or

it may be appealed directly to the Commission through a request for Declaratory Ruling, pursuant

to Section 1.2 of the Commission's Rules. Either way, however, the appeal must be filed within

30 days after the state or local government's action.

15. What can the federal government do to accommodate multiple providers of personal

wireless services in seeking antenna structure locations?

Answer: Section 704 of the 1996 Act mandates that the federal government make available

property, rights-of-way, and easements under its control for the placement of new spectrum-based

telecommunications services. It also provides that a presumption may be established to grant such

requests absent unavoidable direct conflict with the government's mission or planned use of the

locations, and that the decisions regarding siting on such locations must be fair, reasonable, and

nondiscriminatory.

On August 10, 1995, President Clinton issued an Executive Memorandum directing the

Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), in coordination with other federal

government departments and agencies, to develop procedures to facilitate appropriate access to

federal property for the siting of mobile services antenna structures. In response to this order and

the Congressional mandate, GSA has prepared a manual entitled "Government-Wide Procedures

for Placing Commercial Antennas," which is published in Volume 61, page 14100 of the Federal

12

Register, issued on March 29, 1996. For more information on the use of federal property to site

wireless antenna facilities, please contact James Herbert, Office of Property Acquisition and

Realty Services, Public Building Service, General Services Administration, at (202) 501-0376, or

write to GSA at 18th & F Streets, NW, Washington, DC 20405.

Section 704 also mandated the Commission to provide technical support to states in order to

encourage them to make property, rights-of-way and easements under their jurisdiction available

for the placement of new spectrum-based telecommunications services. For more information on

how the Commission can be of assistance to the state and local governments in this area, please

contact Steve Markendorff, Chief of the Broadband Branch, Commercial Wireless Division,

Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, at (202) 418-0620, or fax (202) 418-1412, or email

"smarkend@fcc.gov."

RADIOFREQUENCY (RF) EMISSIONS

16. Does Section 704 preempt state and local governments from basing regulation of the

placement, construction or modification of personal wireless facilities directly or

indirectly on the environmental effects of RF emissions?

Answer: Yes. Section 704 states that "No State or local government or instrumentality thereof

may regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities

on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such

facilities comply with the Commission's regulations concerning such emissions."

17. Have any studies been conducted on potential health hazards of locating an antenna

structures close to residential communities?

Answer: Many governmental agencies, scientists, engineers and professional associations have

conducted studies of exposure levels due to RF emissions from cellular transmitter facilities.

These levels have been found to be typically thousands of times below the levels considered to be

safe by expert entities such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE),

and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), as reflected in the

Commission's rules governing RF emissions.

18. Has the Commission adopted new guidelines for evaluating RF exposures?

Answer: Yes. In light of revised guidelines developed by the Institute of Electrical and

Electronics Engineers, Inc. and adopted by the American National Standards Institute in 1992

(ANSI/IEEE C95.1-1992), the Commission initiated a proceeding in 1993 to determine whether

the Commission should adopt these guidelines to replace the 1982 ANSI guidelines. Section 704

of the 1996 Act required the Commission to complete this rulemaking proceeding (ET Docket

93-62) and have in place revised RF exposure guidelines by August 7, 1996. The Commission

adopted a Report and Order, FCC 96-326, on August 1, 1996, which revised the guidelines that

13

the Commission will use to evaluate the environmental effects of transmitters licensed or

authorized by the Commission. The new guidelines governing transmitter facilities become

effective January 1, 1997. Guidelines governing equipment authorization become effective

immediately.

19. How do the new guidelines differ from the existing guidelines used by the

Commission?

Answer: The new guidelines are based on recommendations from the public, including federal

health and safety agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and

Drug Administration (FDA). These agencies recommended that we adopt elements of both the

1992 revision of the ANSI standard and the exposure criteria recommended by the National

Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. In certain respects the new guidelines are

more stringent than those used previously by the Commission. For example, exposure limits

allowed for the general public are stricter with respect to exposure from building-mounted and

tower-mounted transmitting antennas as well as from hand-held devices such as cellular

telephones.

20. Which federal agencies made recommendations to the Commission that formed a basis

for the final rules?

Answer: While Congress vested the Commission with the authority and responsibility for

regulating the environmental effects of RF emissions, four key federal agencies with responsibility

for health and safety filed comments in this proceeding and made specific recommendations.

These agencies were the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Center for Devices and

Radiological Health (CDRH) of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institute

for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health

Administration (OSHA). In adopting the new guidelines, the Commission paid considerable

deference to the recommendations of these federal agencies, and these agencies have reaffirmed

their support for the Commission's action with letters which are part of the record in this docket.

21. What is the American National Standards Institute?

Answer: The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a non-profit, privately funded

membership organization that coordinates the development of voluntary national standards in the

United States. ANSI, based in New York, New York, has a membership composed of over 1200

companies, 250 professional, technical, trade, labor and consumer organizations, and

approximately 30 government agencies. ANSI and IEEE standards are often recognized by many

government agencies and organizations in both the United States and abroad.

22. What is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc?

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) is the world's largest technical

14

professional society comprised of over 320,000 engineers throughout the world. IEEE is a nonprofit

organization that promotes the development and application of electrotechnology and

applied sciences for the benefit of humanity, the advancement of the profession and the well being

of its members. The technical objectives of the IEEE focus on advancing the theory and practice

of electrical, electronics and computer engineering, and computer science.

IEEE standards are voluntary and these documents are developed within the Technical

Committees of the IEEE Societies and the Standards Coordinating Committees of the IEEE

Standards Board. Members of these committees serve voluntarily and without compensation and

may or may not be members of the institute. The standards developed within the IEEE represent

a consensus of the broad expertise on the subject within the Institute as well as those activities

outside the IEEE that have expressed an interest in participating in the development of the

standard.

23. What is the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements?

Answer: The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) is a nonprofit

organization chartered by the United States Congress to provide government, the public,

and industry with recommendations and guidance concerning human exposure to ionizing and

non-ionizing radiation. The Commission, along with other government agencies and

organizations, has an official relationship with NCRP as a "collaborating organization."

24. How will antenna sites be evaluated for RF exposure?

Answer: Antenna sites will be evaluated for compliance with limits for maximum permissible

exposure (MPE) if they meet the criteria based on operating power, location, or height above

ground set forth in Table 1 in the new Section 1.1307 of the Commission's rules. Under the rules,

all sites are required to comply with the new MPE limits, but only certain sites are required to

undergo environmental evaluation. The rules provide specific guidelines and procedures for such

evaluation.

25. Some carriers say their facilities are "categorically excluded" from compliance. What

does that mean?

Answer: In the past, the Commission categorically excluded certain radio services, including

cellular, land mobile services, and others, from routine environmental evaluation requirements.

Categorical exclusions are allowed under the National Environmental Policy Act if such facilities

are determined, individually or collectively, to have no significant impact on the quality of the

human environment. This does not mean, however, that such facilities do not have to meet the

Commission's guidelines for exposure to RF emissions. Rather, it means that certain facilities will

normally be assumed not to exceed the applicable MPE limits, and do not have to demonstrate

compliance routinely.

15

Under the new rules, the Commission has changed the ways it determines which facilities should

be categorically excluded. Instead of exempting whole services, the categorical exclusions are

now based on the operating power, location, or accessibility of an individual facility. Thus, the

categories requiring environmental evaluation have been changed to include some facilities which

were previously categorically excluded and to categorically exclude others which were previously

included. Table 1 in the new Section 1.1307 of the Commission's rules identifies those facilities

that are subject to routine environmental evaluation. Thus, under the new rules which apply to

cellular, PCS, and paging, as well as other services, some of a carrier's facilities may be

categorically excluded, while others are subject to routine environmental evaluation. It is

important to note that if the Commission receives evidence that a particular facility or equipment

may not be in compliance with the MPE or specific absorption rate (SAR) limits, the Commission

can require that the operator of such facility or the manufacturer of such device demonstrate

compliance, even if it is otherwise categorically excluded.

26. How can I obtain a copy of the new Commission rules adopting the revised RF

exposure guidelines?

Answer: PART II of this Fact Sheet #2 sets forth the most relevant Commission rules governing

RF emissions. Paper copies of the Commission's Report and Order which adopted these new

guidelines can be obtained from the Commission's duplication contractor, International

Transcription Service (ITS), 2100 M Street, N.W., Suite 140, Washington, DC 20037, at (202)

857-3800. An electronic version of the Report and Order is also available from the Internet on

the Commission's Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) homepage at

http://www.fcc.gov/oet. Under the section entitled "Headlines," click on the sentence concerning

RF guidelines. The text of a press release and the complete Report and Order can be accessed

this way.

27. How can I obtain additional information about RF safety and standards?

Answer: The Commission's Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) provides technical

bulletins and fact sheets that address these issues. These documents are available by mail upon

request to the OET's RF Safety Information Line at (202) 418-2464. Additionally, the

Commission's Compliance and Information Bureau maintains a Communications and Crisis

Management Center which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the event of an

emergency, such as a radiofrequency hazard threatening public safety or health, the public can call

(202) 632-6975, or fax (202) 418-2813, or e-mail "dprescot@fcc.gov." The watch officer who

answers at that number can contact the Commission's staff in the affected area and dispatch them

within a matter of hours.

For more general background information on the health and safety issues related to

electromagnetic fields and biological effects, you may also call the Environmental Protection

Agency's Electromagnetic Field (EMF) information line at 1-800-363-2383.

 

Copyright - 2010-2012, Jane Celltower.  All Rights Reserved.