Communications industry and conservation groups jointly propose to the FCC interim processing standards for communications towers

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(05/04/2010) -

Washington, D.C. – In an unprecedented effort, communications industry and conservation organizations have collaborated in drafting recommendations designed to facilitate Federal Communications Commission (FCC) efforts to protect migratory birds while enhancing the nation’s vital communications infrastructure.

The recommendations submitted today to the FCC in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) are the result of more than six months of negotiation between the Infrastructure Coalition (comprised of CTIA-The Wireless Association®, the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Association of Tower Erectors and PCIA-The Wireless Infrastructure Association) and the Conservation Group (comprised of the American Bird Conservancy, the Defenders of Wildlife and the National Audubon Society).  

The MOU calls for the development of interim standards for the Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) program, through which the FCC registers towers that support broadband, wireless and broadcast systems, including wireless voice and Internet services.  The agreement covers towers for which an ASR is required to be filed, depending upon the height of the proposed tower or the specifications of a replacement tower.  In addition, it calls on the FCC to adopt and utilize a preferred lighting scheme for changes to existing towers that might minimize potential adverse consequences.

The groups jointly believe that the proposals outlined in the MOU will complement the FCC’s initiative in promoting a comprehensive and robust communications network nationwide that complies with environmental laws.  At the same time, they urge the FCC to undertake a programmatic review of the potential effect of towers on migratory birds as it moves towards adopting final rules.  

“We urge the FCC to adopt the interim standards in the MOU as it addresses the delicate balance between the migratory birds issue with the wireless industry’s ability to deploy and expand ubiquitous, innovative wireless broadband and voice services for all Americans,” said Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association.  “We look forward to proceeding with these mutually beneficial proposals so we can thoughtfully construct and place wireless towers throughout the country.”

Darin Schroeder, Vice President of Conservation Advocacy at American Bird Conservancy, hailed this historic agreement saying: “If the FCC adopts an interim standard based on our agreement, it will help guide the communications industry in building and lighting their towers in ways science has shown will minimize unnecessary bird deaths, and ensure the next generation of Americans will have a chance to enjoy the same songbirds we see and hear today.”

“Today's filing marks an important step forward for local broadcasters seeking clarity with regard to tower siting issues in the digital era,” said the National Association of Broadcasters’ Executive Vice President, Dennis Wharton.  “The interim standards recognize the important dual policy goals of protecting wildlife while preserving free and local broadcasting for communities across America.”

Robert Irvin, Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs at Defenders of Wildlife, urged the FCC to move ahead, saying: “The recommendations will conserve migratory birds while furthering growth in communications technology. By adopting these standards, the FCC will demonstrate that progress in technology can go hand in hand with the protection of our treasured wildlife.”

Michael Fitch, President & CEO of PCIA-The Wireless Infrastructure Association, recommended the FCC adopt the MOU’s proposed interim rules, stating that “Despite the absence of accepted validated science on the issue, the MOU should facilitate the rapid deployment of wireless infrastructure critical to achieving the Commission’s National Broadband Plan goal of having the U.S. ‘lead the world in mobile innovation, with the fastest and most extensive wireless networks of any nation.’  Wireless infrastructure is the backbone of all wireless services and we encourage the Commission to take all actions to ensure that deployment is not impeded.”

Mike Daulton, Senior Director for Government Relations at National Audubon Society, emphasized the importance of the jointly-endorsed proposal, saying:  “These joint recommendations with the communications industry represent a huge science-based step forward that will help protect vulnerable migrating birds while also supporting a dependable and reliable wireless communication system.”

Jim Coleman, Chairman of the National Association of Tower Erectors, commended all parties for their diligence in collaborating on this Memorandum of Understanding.  He added, “This agreement underscores the critical importance of expanding our nation’s communications capabilities while also protecting our economy and homeland security.  It will enable us to continue to perform essential construction, maintenance, and modification work on towers, thereby creating or preserving jobs.  At the same time, it demonstrates reasonable stewardship by the entire tower and related industries towards avian species, although we remain concerned about the lack of adequate research to support further mitigation steps.”

Read more about what Defenders is doing to protect migratory birds.

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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.  With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come.  For more information, visit www.defenders.org.

 

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Contact(s):

William J. Sill, Infrastructure Coalition, (202) 383-3419
Greer S. Goldman, National Audobon Society, (202) 302-5931
Caitlin Leutwiler, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-3226