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FCC beats cities in court, helping carriers avoid $2 billion in local 5G fees

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Viktoryia Vinnikava | EyeEm)

The Federal Communications Commission has defeated dozens of cities in court, with judges ruling that the FCC can preempt local fees and regulations imposed on wireless carriers deploying 5G networks. The ruling is good news for AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

The FCC voted to preempt cities and towns in September 2018, saying the move would prevent local governments from charging wireless carriers about $2 billion worth of fees over five years related to deployment of wireless equipment such as small cells. That’s less than 1 percent of the estimated $275 billion that the FCC said carriers would have to spend to deploy 5G small cells throughout the United States.

Cities promptly sued the FCC, but a ruling issued yesterday by the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit went mostly in the FCC’s favor. It wasn’t a complete victory for the FCC, though, as judges overturned a portion of the FCC ruling that limited the kinds of aesthetic requirements cities and towns can impose on carrier deployments.

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