Mayor Gary Resnick Testifies Before the Senate on Wireless Broadband
Earlier this week, Mayor Gary Resnick, Wilton Manors, FL testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation at the "Removing Barriers to Wireless Broadband Deployment" hearing.
Mayor Resnick is a long time member of the National League of Cities and current chair of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Intergovernmental Advisory Committee. The hearing featured representatives from the wireless industry, the Administration, and the technology space.
Mayor Resnick testified on the clear and strong role for local governments in increasing wireless broadband services for their communities. Not only does it help promote the economic well-being of their residents, it helps local governments ensure quality communications services for public safety and other critical services. Mayor Resnick highlighted this role by talking about the innovative ways local governments are working to improve the way they respond to requests to increase wireless infrastructure.
Industry can tend to paint a picture of local governments as being an obstacle to wireless deployment and Mayor Resnick was able to share examples of where local governments have taken steps to eliminate unnecessary review procedures thereby expediting this critical deployment and successfully creating partnerships with the wireless industry to improve wireless communications services. To further underscore this partnership, Mayor Resnick noted the FCC's recent wireless broadband facilities siting order and the resources jointly developed by NLC, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, the National Association of Counties, CTIA, The Wireless Association, and PCIA, The Wireless Infrastructure Association to help localities comply with the order.
Despite the nation's need for additional broadband deployments, Mayor Resnick testified that needs must be balanced with the ability of local governments to maintain reasonable control and authority over the placement of wireless facilities in their communities. "Because of our responsibility as local leaders to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our residents, federal policies must respect our ability as local officials to manage public rights-of-way as well as land uses on private and public property," said Resnick. "Disruption to neighborhoods, open spaces, streets, sidewalks, and businesses can have a negative impact on public safety and industry, as well as the sustainability of our communities."
When asked by Committee members how cities were managing the various infrastructure requests from industry, Mayor Resnick talked how communities were streamlining applications processes on small cell technologies and developing solutions to facilitate larger structures such as towers. These larger structures can cause an aesthetic issue in the community and Mayor Resnick was able to refer to an example of how these structures are being stealthily disguised to blend in with the environment while increasing wireless capacity. However, local governments are not always experts on the types of infrastructure needed for wireless broadband and he urged the industry to help educate local decisions makers so that they can create policies that would expedite deployment.
Committee members also asked how the federal government can help localities deploy broadband more effectively and Mayor Resnick talked about federal barriers, such as how, in his community, CDBG funds were not eligible for a digital literacy initiative or transportation dollars to be used to build telecommunications infrastructure as part of a transportation project. These obstacles are not unique to Wilton Manors and significantly limit what city leaders can do to spur broadband expansion while stunting innovation at the local level.
The hearing represented a win for local governments as the Senate realized the role cities play in a national discussion about wireless broadband and provided an opportunity for cities to share how they are working to help facilitate the development of this critical infrastructure.