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Municipal Management of Cellphone Towers, DAS, and Small Cell Deployments

Regulating Placement, Protecting Rights of Way, and Leasing Sites and Structures

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will prepare counsel to identify and address complex issues relating to small cell and traditional cell tower applications and leases, zoning regulations, and revenue considerations. The panel will focus on regulatory compliance and negotiating and structuring site leases and franchises. The panel will also review the May 2020 Declaratory Ruling and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking related to the deployment of 5G networks, which clarifies, among other things, the meaning of "substantial change" in physical attributes and boundaries of a cell tower "site."


Massive growth in demand for wireless services has precipitated an explosion in the number of wireless deployments of cellphone towers, masts or antennas, LTE and 5G networks, distributed antenna systems (DAS), and small cell deployments. Also, existing cell towers and small cell sites are continually being reconfigured to support new equipment needed to meet increased demand.

Municipalities are increasingly involved in two legally distinct but sometimes overlapping roles: (1) obtaining regulatory approval, and (2) negotiating leases or licenses for placement of wireless equipment on government property, including rooftops, buildings, street lights, and traffic signals, but they must now do so in a world of rental caps and shortened shot clocks for small cells imposed by the FCC in a recent ruling.

For counsel representing local governments, challenges that arise in wireless site leases include lease rates, revenue distribution, and environmental and zoning issues. Regulatory burdens are also changing with the enactment of FCC shot clocks and collocation fast tracks under the FCC's 6409(a) rules and the Commission's new small cell shot clocks and pricing caps.

Moreover, DAS development involving access to rights-of-way creates complicated issues surrounding the intersection of zoning, right-of-way regulations, and proprietary issues. DAS providers and local governments around the country are seeking solutions to these challenges.

Listen as our panel of local government legal advisers discusses best practices for counsel to local governments to prepare for and deal with issues specific to cell towers and site applications and leases in this always changing and increasingly volatile area.



  1. The FCC's new small cell order: what it means for your community's regulatory authority
    1. Why did the FCC take action?
    2. How did it define small cells?
    3. What steps did it take to limit local authority?
  2. The small cell order: what it means for leases of public property
    1. The effect of the order on fees/accessibility
    2. What terms and conditions should you be including in leases?
  3. Declaratory ruling and notice of proposed rulemaking dated May 2020


The panel will review these and other highly relevant issues:

  • Strategies local government counsel should consider when drafting cell tower site leases
  • Unique challenges concerning cell tower site applications and leases presented by DAS and other new technology
  • Factors to consider in determining whether to renew existing leases for placement of towers on municipal property
  • Updates on federal laws, regulations, and state legislation governing small cell and tower deployments


Karish, Gail
Gail A. Karish

Best Best & Krieger

Ms. Karish’s practice focuses on telecommunications, assisting clients in California and across the country with...  |  Read More

Lederer, Gerard
Gerard L. Lederer

Best Best & Krieger

Mr. Lederer serves as legislative counsel to TeleCommUnity and is a well-known advocate for public and private property...  |  Read More

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