Commission should nix avian tower collision regulation, says coalition

A coalition of parties with interests in communications towers filed comments with the FCC April 23 in opposition to regulation of communications infrastructure to address the safety of migratory birds, saying such a move is "unsupported by the facts, the law and the public interest."

The Infrastructure Coalition (consisting of CTIA–The Wireless Association, NAB, MSTV, the National Association of Tower Erectors, PCIA–The Wireless Infrastructure Association, and the Wireless Communications Association) submitted its comments in response to an FCC notice of proposed rulemaking on the effects of communications towers on migratory birds.

Regulating communications infrastructure in regards to avian safety "would undermine key Commission priorities, including broadband deployment, public safety and facilities-based competition" and would fail "to materially advance the public interest," the filing said.

According to the coalition, there is no "broad-based, peer-reviewed evidence" regarding whether or not avian-tower collisions "significantly affect the human environment."

Avian-tower mortality rates are dropping even as the number of communications towers in the country grows, the coalition filing said and acknowledged "the reasons are unclear." Therefore, now is not the time for the commission to consider changing the status quo, it said.

Creating new regulation to address avian-tower collisions "is plainly contrary to law," the filing said. For the National Environmental Policy Act to require regulation, a tower siting would have to be "a ‘major' federal action," which it isn't, and the action has to impact the environment significantly, "which the facts cannot support," it said.

Even if the facts and the law supported FCC regulation, there simply isn't enough evidence to determine the appropriate action, the filing said. The filing also pointed out "regulations promulgated in the absence of reliable data may have unintentional adverse consequences to important public interest goals."

To read the filing in its entirety, click here.