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US senators reintroduce legislation for small cell deployments

Two U.S. senators reintroduced legislation designed to create procedural guidelines and deadlines for state and local governments considering small cell deployment applications.

The bill — known as the Streamlining the Rapid Evolution and Modernization of Leading-edge Infrastructure Necessary to Enhance Small Cell Deployment Act or STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act — would update the Communications Act to cut costs and streamline the approval periods for small cells, while still recognizing the unique challenges for small municipalities, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, wrote in a June 3 press release.

Small cells are cellular base stations and antennas that can vary in size but are generally the size of pizza boxes or shoe boxes. CTIA, the U.S. wireless association, has cited estimates indicating the industry will need 800,000 small cells by 2026 as operators build out densified next-generation 5G networks.

Republican U.S. Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Brendan Carr expressed his support for the bill on June 3, saying it "demonstrates bipartisan support for fee limits, timelines and other reforms that are key to accelerating the build-out of 5G infrastructure in communities across the country."