The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has affirmed FCM’s arguments about the municipal role in 5G deployment and managing municipal rights of way.

In January 2019, the CRTC launched a national review of wireless services. During these consultations, some parties argued that municipalities constituted a barrier to the future deployment of 5G technology.

FCM made comprehensive written submissions that addressed the policy, practical, and legal reasons why these arguments did not hold water–-and the critical role of municipalities in ensuring that rights of way are managed in the public interest.

On April 15, 2021, the CRTC upheld the rules of cost allocation, coordination, and documentation that municipalities have advocated for over the course of decades. Under the current regime, municipalities across Canada have reached hundreds of Municipal Access Agreements—frameworks that allow local governments to be responsible stewards of public space and keep the local taxpayer whole.

Specifically, the decision affirms:

  • Municipalities play a central role in the effective and efficient management of right-of-way space for the common benefit of all right of way users.
  • Municipalities play a legitimate role protecting local taxpayers by minimizing costs resulting from telecommunications work.
  • There is no evidence that municipalities constitute a barrier to the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure.
  • Municipal consent is a fundamental prerequisite to right-of-way access which the CRTC cannot change.
  • The CRTC does not have jurisdiction to regulate the placement of 5G small cell apparatuses nor to resolve disputes with respect to small cells. As a result, the CRTC was of the view that it did not have to rule on whether the expression “other public place” includes municipal assets.

These are some of the most significant policy pronouncements by the CRTC on the role of municipalities in ensuring connectivity for Canadians.

Read the full decision by the CRTC.

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