New Proposed Federal and State Small Cell Antenna Laws will Remove Local Control

Only a handful of companies control all of the telecommunications in America. This  industry has pushed state and now federal legislation to remove local oversight for placement of cell towers stated to be “small cell” antenna. Although SB649 in California was vetoed by the governor, 13 other states have passed legislation in 2017 to alter or remove local control for placement and rent for cell towers on public utility poles and in rights of way (see below). The telecommunications industry argues they need to lower the cost of installations and move more quickly to serve the publics demand for more connection with 5G and Internet of Things. Others say we should be skeptical about the outcome of constraining public rights. Handcuffing Cities

With this proposed legislation, industry promises to solve all the internet problems with wireless instead of wired connections to keep us seamlessly and continually connected to our devices.  What are the downsides?  Loss of local governmental oversight, control and income; loss of transparency, consolidation of the telecommunications industry, massive unsolvable privacy and security issues, mounting E Waste dilemma, increased energy consumption, technology addiction, over-dependence on technology; not to mention the obvious direct health and environmental impacts of this expanding blanket of wireless radiation which leaves some people homeless because of electrosensitivity symptoms.  The Industry fails to acknowledge that improved cell phone connections could be addressed by feeding a fiber cable to every existing cell tower. Our sophisticated system of copper landlines are safer and more effective for all residents in emergencies, more secure from hacking and have better voice quality.  AT&T was slated to expand fiberoptic but now is pushing to remove copper landlines and force the market into wireless services (VOIP)  which are loosely regulated by the FCC. Changes in the FCC are also a concern with regards to health and environmental protections. Corporate Takeover of FCC

It is important to become educated on this issue and understand local, regional and federal laws that have passed as well as new legislation being proposed.

There are 11 cities in the nation now that are testing 5G small cell systems with frequencies in the 27 GHz range.  Sacramento will be the first to market 5G technology.


California SB649 (Hueso 2017)  Wireless Telecommunications Facilites: SB649 Legislative Bill

 SB649 proposed to streamline permits for small cell antenna throughout neighborhoods (at least every block)  and rural areas by removing local government control for rapid deployment of antenna placement other than for historical sites and fire stations (due to concern for health effects). These would be for 4G telecommunications initially and with 5G application later as the technology is developed and rolled out. As in the Telecommunication Act of 1996, there would no exemptions, no ability to discuss public or individual health or environmental considerations in the placement of cell antenna. SB649 was vetoed by Governor Brown because of concerns about the loss of local authority, however. These are the 13 states have passed laws similar to SB649 –

Arizona (R-17), Colorado (HB17-1193), Connecticut (SB536), Florida (SB596), Indiana (SB213), Iowa (SB 431), Kansas (HB2131),  Minnesota (HF739), Missouri (HB 656), North Carolina (HB310), Ohio (SB331-Overturned by Judge on technicality), Texas (SB1004- Lawsuit from Austin filed), Virginia (HB 2196). Only one state is still working through  an antenna bill – Illinois(SB1451).  For updates on these bill you can visit the Environmental Health Trust Page-Small Cell Antenna State Bills-EHTrust

Local City Ordinances

Local City Ordinances have been passed to attempt to retain as much control as possible in the placement of cell towers both large and “small cell”.  Local opposition to cell towers is occurring in California in Palo Alto, Hillsborough, Piedmont, Monterey and Nevada City. Visit  Local Ordinances to view information on this issue.  Ordinances Cell Towers

Hillsborough,  California: Attorney Patrick Shannon discussing the proposal to place 16 cell towers in residential and rural area at a Hillsborough City Council meeting Dec 7, 2017.


New Federal Small Cell Legislation Introduced


There is now a Federal push to have similar bills remove all “barriers” to deployment of small antenna throughout cities and rural areas for the sake of 5G deployment and to support the Internet of Things.  No independent, all stakeholder commission has been convened to critically examine the many risks of this massive new untested technology with simultaneous exposure to many layers of microwave frequencies. There has been secrecy and lack of transparency surrounding 5G likely due to proprietary concerns. Secrecy surrounding 5G testing

“Carriers are pushing to remove states and the FCC to constrain public rights” Handcuffing Cities to Help Telecom Giants

S 19-The Mobile Act Now- (Thune 2017)-Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless Act.  Aims to make more short millimeter wave wireless frequencies available for use in 5G systems.


S 88- The Digital Act-Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things Act -S88(Fischer 2017) Purports to help address the increase of digitally connected products (the Internet of Things or IoT) by creating a working group to analyze best practices to promote IoT moving forward. The steering committee would be composed of stakeholders outside the federal government. The goals include:1) identifying federal laws, regulations and policies that inhibit IoT development; 2) examine how federal agencies can benefit from, use, and prepare for the IoT


S 174-Consolidated Reporting Act – (Heller 2017). The Act would mandate that the FCC condense eight separate reports on competition in the communications marketplace  into just one report every two years. The FCC must 1)  include a list of geographic areas that are not served by any provider of advanced telecommunications capability; and (2) consider market entry barriers for entrepreneurs and small businesses in accordance with national policy favoring diversity of media voices, competition, technological advancement, and promotion of the public interest, convenience, and necessity.”


S 1682 Airwaves Act (Cory 2017) According to Congress.Gov. “This bill requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to complete auctions during each of the next three calendar years that will grant new broadcast licenses for specified frequency spectrum bands. The FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration are directed to identify frequencies in specified spectrum bands that may be utilized for: (1) non-federal unlicensed use; and (2) commercial licensed use. The FCC must allocate 10% of proceeds from each of the spectrum band auctions specified in the bill to expand wireless infrastructure in rural areas that are underserved or unserved. The FCC shall conduct a study on how unlicensed frequency spectrum bands can be utilized for: (1) the provision of healthcare in rural areas, (2) distance learning, and (3) facilitating innovations in agriculture.”


S 1988- The Speed Act: Streamlining Permitting to Enable Efficient Deployment of Broadband Infrastructure. (Wicker and Cortez-Masto 2017) This bill would streamline the permitting process for small cell tower installations previously subjected to and environmental reviews. This removes the requirement for review under the  National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).


S.Res. 521. (2017) A Senate resolution expressing the sense of the Senate about a strategy to deploy fifth generation mobile networks (5G networks) and next-generation wireless and wired technologies to promote economic development and digital innovation throughout the United States.


Res. 521. (2017) A House resolution Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives about a strategy to deploy fifth generation mobile networks (5G networks) and next-generation wireless and wired technologies to promote economic development and digital innovation throughout the United States.


The “Model” Streamlining Bill for Small Cell

Here is a document from the Utilities Technical Council –Utilities Small Cell Bills Update– which states the goals of small cell regulations to “streamline” deployment of antenna.

Utilities Small Cell Bills Update, U.S.