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FCC Proposes to Prohibit Restrictions on Deployment of Some 5G Fixed Wireless Antennas

In April 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) unanimously adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend its over-the-air-reception devices (“OTARD”) rule in order to facilitate the deployment of 5G fixed wireless networks.

The FCC’s existing OTARD rule prohibits laws, regulations or restrictions imposed by state or local governments or private entities that impair the ability of antenna users to install, maintain or use over-the-air reception devices.1 The rule broadly defines such prohibited laws and restrictions to include any zoning, land-use or building regulations, or any private covenant, contract provision, lease provision, homeowners’ association rule or similar restriction.2 The current rule, however, has two significant limitations:

  1. The antenna must be one meter or less in diameter or diagonal measurement; and

  2. The antenna must be located on the customer’s property and be used and controlled exclusively for that customer and other fixed wireless customers (e., the customer antennas can function as nodes in a wireless mesh network). Due to the latter limitation, the current OTARD rule does not apply to hub or relay antennas of network operators which transmit signals to and/or receive signals from multiple customer locations.

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