European Commission proposes no 5G small cell planning permission obligations

5G small cell antennas must meet certain physical and technical criteria

In an effort to accelerate 5G small cell adoption across the European Union (EU), the European Commission (EC), after specifying the physical and technical characteristics of small cell equipment, has recommended that this type of antenna installation should be exempt from planning permission requirements.

“Together with Member States, we must pave the way for the timely rollout of 5G, without restrictive administrative barriers,” said Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, “which will in turn create significant demand from our industry and will amplify European innovations and competitiveness.”

He also called 5G networks “a pillar of socio-economic development” and said that they will be critical to COVID-19 recovery efforts.

In order to qualify for the exemption from permission requirements, the 5G antennas must meet certain physical and technical criteria. For instance, the antennas must be “invisible or mounted in a non-obstructive way onto their support structure.” Further, the installed equipment must produce less electromagnetic emission than a Wi-Fi installation.

Mobile data demand has grown at an exponential rate for three decades, and according to data from IDC, there is expected to be a continued growth of about 30% per year as 5G becomes more ubiquitous.

Small cells have presented a solution to this growing need for capacity and coverage and have become increasingly common over the last five years, with an estimated 800,000 small cells deployed in just the U.S. by 2026, according to industry trade group CTIA.

It is unclear at the moment how far this regulatory ruling with reach beyond the boundaries of the current EU, or if those markets that once fell under such rule will follow suite.

There has been a great deal of calling for similar easing of restrictions in the U.S., with the Federal Communications Commission responding by speeding up the federal review of infrastructure, as well as the state and local review of small cells, specifically. The FCC has also committed to modernizing outdated regulations that hinder the fast and efficient rollout of 5G networks.



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