The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) applauded the unanimous decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to request that the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) adopt the Twilight Towers Draft Program Comment.
Twilight Towers are a group of macro communications towers built between March 16, 2001 and March 7, 2005 for which there is no evidence of completion of National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 consultation process, which is required for towers constructed after March 7, 2005. In addition, Twilight Towers were not required to undergo any historic and cultural consultations with representatives from federally-recognized Tribal Nations. These Twilight Towers were all inaccessible for collocation because adding new equipment to each tower was not allowed under existing regulations.
Today’s decision by the FCC is a significant step in making more than 4,000 communications towers accessible to as many as 6,500 individual antennas.
“This is an historic win for the wireless industry,” said Jonathan Adelstein, President and CEO of WIA. “This decision opens up more wireless infrastructure and strengthens mobile networks so that the industry can provide greater service to consumers across the country. These facilities will help us meet the explosive growth in demand for wireless data as our industry continues to roll out the most advanced mobile networks in the world.”
WIA worked closely with CTIA to provide the FCC with comments regarding the issue and also participating in meetings and workshops.
“We are grateful with the ongoing dedication and leadership from FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly and Commissioner Brendan Carr,” Adelstein said. “We are appreciative of the extraordinary efforts of Commissioner O’Rielly, who has been a long-time advocate for wireless infrastructure deployment and specifically for resolving the issue of Twilight Towers.”
Earlier this year, Commissioner O’Rielly addressed industry stakeholders at WIA’s annual conference in Orlando. Among other important issues, Commissioner O’Rielly made it clear that he wanted to resolve the issue and free up these valuable facilities for collocation. “My goal is to ensure that we put an end to the Twilight Towers issue once and for all,” he said.
The decision to open up Twilight Towers to collocation is also based on the limited likelihood that any of the affected facilities actually had any impact on historic properties. As WIA pointed out to the FCC, the majority of wireless infrastructure projects reviewed through the Tribal consultation process have had no adverse effects on historic properties.
“There is no reason to believe Twilight Towers are any different that towers that were built during any other time period,” Adelstein said. “No formal complaints were filed by a Tribe or a Tribal Historic Preservation Office claiming a tower has had an adverse effect on their cultural preservation efforts. In fact, opening up Twilight Towers will actually reduce the number of new towers and therefore reduce the amount of ground disturbance that comes with new construction.”