The Western Connecticut Council of Governments authorized the creation of a task force to develop a coordinated telecommunications strategy to address the emergence of fifth generation broadband, a key recommendation in its recently adopted Regional Plan of Conservation and Development. This is the first study conducted of its kind in the state of Connecticut that comprehensively addresses the municipal challenges and opportunities offered by fifth generation broadband services.
Because of the range of complex issues associated with siting, public safety, land use and regulations at both the state and federal level for the telecommunications industry, the report provides an in-depth analysis of the scope of municipal authority to regulate telecommunications systems in the state of Connecticut- including small cell wireless facilities associated with fifth generation broadband. The task force met with numerous subject matter experts and reviewed hundreds of regulations and alternate strategies across the country and state to identify six major strategies that will enable municipalities to develop customized regulatory and business approaches to develop 21st century wireless services in their communities. The final recommendations report summarizes the benefits and elements of each strategy and provides a model right of way ordinance, a model municipal ordinance, identified resources and recommended improvements to land use controls based on a comprehensive review of all the state’s municipal zoning regulations. To complement the regulatory strategies mentioned above, the group also identified best practices for the development of licensing strategies aimed at ensuring that public safety, environmental protection and siting decisions are balanced with the region’s desperate need for improved high-speed telecommunications services to meet the need of the businesses, residents and local governments.
The importance of this work has been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, making our dependence high-speed telecommunications for remote learning, work, and social life even more critical than when the task force first convened in March of this year. It is a blueprint for municipal action consistent with the Federal Communications Commissions’ small cell wireless facilities mandate and should be of statewide value to all 169 municipalities concerned with the deployment of fifth generation broadband.