The Advanced Wireless Infrastructure Deployment Act ("Act") (HB 687/SB 596) becomes effective July 1, 2017. It amends Section 337.401, FL Statutes, to address broadband infrastructure in the public rights of way by service providers and infrastructure companies. The Act is very technical and comprehensive. It provides for access to public rights of way for various facilities, including: 1) collocation of small cell facilities on government-owned poles, 2) installation of new poles to accommodate facilities; 3) installation of ground mounted equipment; and 4) installation of micro cells.
The Act sets forth specific procedures local governments must follow to process applications, including a time frame – with some exceptions – of 60 days to act on permit applications and detailed requirements for action. Local governments may require registrations addressing bonds, insurance, abandonment and other matters by ordinance. Further, the Act provides several limited bases to deny applications, including public safety. Further, installation is subject to “applicable codes,” including “local codes or ordinances adopted to implement” the Act as well as “objective design standards adopted by ordinance” that may address reasonable design, material, color, stealth, spacing and location standards for ground mounted equipment and small wireless facilities. In addition, the Act provides that local governments “shall” by the “later of January 1, 2018, or 3 months after receiving a request to collocate its first small wireless facility,” make available, through ordinance or otherwise, rates, fees and terms for the collocation of small wireless facilities which comply with the Act. There are many carve outs that are not subject to various provisions of the Act.
Wireless providers and infrastructure companies have been seeking pole attachment agreements and applying for permits to install broadband infrastructure in the rights of way in Florida and around the country. It is expected that many applications will be submitted throughout Florida once the Act becomes effective.
Similar legislation passed in several other states. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) and Congress are considering federal regulations. The FCC has issued two notices of proposed rulemaking and appointed a committee to address local and state regulations regarding deployment of broadband infrastructure in the rights of way.
Mr. Resnick is the immediate past chair of the FCC's Intergovernmental Advisory Committee and chairs GrayRobinson's Communications, Cable and Broadband Law practice group. Mr. Resnick testified on the Act in the Florida Senate and testified in the U.S. Senate about potential FCC and federal regulations. He will be presenting about these topics at the Florida Association of County Attorneys Annual Conference.
Mr. Cloud currently chairs GrayRobinson's Utilities practice group. He is also the current president of the Florida Municipal Attorneys Association. He recently presented on this communications bill before the City, County and Local Government Section at its Annual Seminar in Orlando and will make an updated presentation at the FMAA Annual Seminar in St. Petersburg in July