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Federal Guidelines for Local and State Government Authority over the Siting of Personal Wireless Service Facilities

Section 332(c)(7) of the Communications Act preserves state and local authority over zoning and land use decisions for personal wireless service facilities, but sets forth specific limitations on that authority. Specifically, a state or local government may not unreasonably discriminate among providers of functionally equivalent services, may not regulate in a manner that prohibits or has the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services, must act on applications within a reasonable period of time, and must make any denial of an application in writing supported by substantial evidence in a written record. The statute also preempts local decisions premised directly or indirectly on the environmental effects of radio frequency (RF) emissions, assuming that the provider is in compliance with the Commission's RF rules.

Allegations that a state or local government has acted inconsistently with Section 332(c)(7) are to be resolved exclusively by the courts (with the exception of cases involving regulation based on the health effects of RF emissions, which can be resolved by the courts or the Commission). Thus, other than RF emissions cases, the Commission's role in Section 332(c)(7) issues is primarily one of information and facilitation.

Siting Correspondence

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Last reviewed/updated on 12/17/2010.