On June 25, 2020, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (“Bureau”) released a Public Notice announcing an electronic process for FCC licensees to apply for expedited Section 106 historic review or for emergency authorization to resume standard review for qualifying critical infrastructure projects during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Expedited Historic Review: Section 800.12(b) of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (“ACHP”) rules (“Section 800.12(b)”) allows for an expedited seven-day Section 106 review for “essential and immediate” projects which directly respond to an emergency. A licensee seeking review under Section 800.12(b) must indicate this in the filing and show how the project meets the “essential and immediate” requirement.
FCC Emergency Authorization: Section VIII of the Wireless Facilities Nationwide Programmatic Agreement (“NPA”) (“Section VIII”) permits the Commission to issue an emergency authorization for infrastructure projects if the project addresses one of the following:
- Network congestion due to COVID-19 effects;
- Needs of unserved/underserved areas due to COVID-19 effects; or
- Support of public safety initiatives or critical infrastructure initiatives (i.e., transportation and utilities) prioritized by Federal, State, or local governments or by public safety authorities to meet communications needs during the COVID-19 crisis.
An emergency authorization will allow approved projects to proceed within TCNS after the standard Section 106 review period has concluded.
The Bureau has established an ECFS non-docketed proceeding for licensees to request, electronically, that: (1) the FCC, in coordination with the ACHP, permit expedited review under Section 800.12(b); or (2) the FCC issue an emergency authorization under Section VIII. Filing instructions are attached to the Public Notice.
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