Over the 2019 interim and into the 2020 General Assembly session, MML and other local government stakeholders had several discussions withe the Senate Finance committee leadership and the wireless companies about 5G small wireless infrastructure; more or less rehashing prior debate over right-of-way access, permitted use, closing the digital divide, and fees.
MML’s position is that with stricter mandates from the Federal Communications Commission there is no need for a one size fits all law in Maryland that preempts local governments from oversight of action in their right-of-way. There are hundreds if not thousands of small cells already installed today with many more in the works to be installed across the state moving forward. Maryland’s municipalities are preparing for the arrival of small cells in their communities by enacting ordinances that establish a procedure for application, permitting, and fees as well as publishing aesthetic standards which guide the look and feel of the actual installations.
After a public briefing before the Senate Finance committee during which both local governments and the wireless companies presented their case, no further action was taken on this issue for the remainder of the General Assembly session. Long story short, existing municipal authorities remain intact over this issue.