“Yes” To HB 176 To Boost Wireless Infrastructure – By Virginia Galloway

February 08, 2013

In American politics and government we’ve come to expect a certain amount of hypocrisy, but the Georgia Municipal Association is truly charting new territory with their recent legislative action alert.

On the one hand they are strenuously advocating for a streamlined permitting process for much needed municipal infrastructure projects, while on the other hand they hyperventilate that a streamlined permitting process for wireless infrastructure will lead to the end of civilization as we know it. These positions are enough to give the average Georgian whiplash.

Right now in Georgia, a bill is that is intended to streamline and standardize aspects of cell tower permitting would encourage private industry to invest millions of dollars in our state to meet growing demand for wireless service by consumers and businesses.

New infrastructure is needed to provide faster service, better wireless performance, and new technology for Georgia consumers and businesses. Private companies are looking for certainty and the ability to put investment to work quickly for Georgians. Who wins here? Consumers, business, our economy and yes Georgia cities. The hundreds of millions of dollars at stake here fuels more jobs, greater economic activity which means more revenue for cities and the state.

The biggest stumbling block for the Georgia Municipal Association is a 150-day shot clock for permitting decisions on new cell tower builds. This is five months. It’s hard to imagine that any city could not thoroughly and carefully review a building permit in five months. Further, this is the amount of time that the Federal Communications Commission, technical experts and others have determined to be more than sufficient for this review.

The bill’s goal is not just to be a rubber stamp; but a streamlined and standardized process to help spur investment. Wireless infrastructure is already a heavily regulated process and it generally takes 18 to 24 months to build a new cell tower. There are federal, state and local regulations to comply with and any unnecessary delays keeps better and faster wireless service from Georgia consumers and businesses.

I hope Georgia’s mayors and other city elected officials will step up and support HB 176. Streamlining and standardizing infrastructure permitting is the right thing for Georgia’s cities and for Georgia’s private businesses.

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