The boom of the internet, social media, and smartphone services would not have been possible without the expansion of our country’s telecommunications networks. As a whole, this network is highly dependent on the various contracts, leases, and agreements between hundreds of companies, each of which has to comply with various overlapping laws.
Here in Colorado, these laws can be difficult to navigate, and business owners may run into several roadblocks during important negotiations and deals. Understanding these laws is paramount to develop your business and ensure you do not face any violations.
Telecommunications Act of 1996
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is the federal, overarching law that governs telecommunications networks, providers, and contracts. This law grants broad powers to the states and local governments to decide how to regulate telecommunications networks and what procedures providers must pass through to develop new contracts. However, with these powers come limitations.
Under this law, state and local governments cannot:
- Create unreasonable limitations or barriers on expanding telecommunications networks.
- Block a wireless provider from developing new contracts, applying for permits, or negotiating for tower installations without due process.
- Limit the development of an open market and competition between telecommunications companies.
These regulations are enforced by the FCC – Federal Communications Commission — through the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, which handles the licensing of wireless companies, compliance with regulations, and research into the industry.
Colorado Wireless Telecommunication Laws
While the Telecommunication Act provides broad regulations for telecommunication companies, the State of Colorado has its own requirements and procedures for regulating wireless telecommunications.
Here, wireless telecommunications are handled by the Telecommunications Section of the Public Utilities Commission. This department’s goals are to keep rates as low as possible, ensure universal access to wireless telecommunications networks, maintain and enable the growth of our state’s infrastructure, and approve and regulate telecommunication providers, all of which in compliance with the Public Utilities Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure.
One important element of this is that the submission of permits to install small wireless services is in the local government’s jurisdiction, according to HB17-1193. If a telecom company wishes to expand a network, or a local property owner wishes to lease his land to a telecommunications company, they must submit a permit to the local government. The local government must make a decision within 90 days or 150, depending on the type of installation, as stated under Colorado Revised Statutes Title 29 – Government Local § 29-27-403.
This can become a complex process, as you will need to thoroughly review local ordinances to ensure you are complying with all laws. If you fail to do so, it can put your permit or lease in jeopardy, potentially delaying important updates to your wireless network.
Speak to an Experienced Wireless Telecommunications Attorney
Evaluating all relevant ordinances and laws is difficult without an in-depth understanding of Colorado’s legislation surrounding wireless telecommunications. Your best option is to sit down with a Colorado wireless telecommunications attorney at Welsh Law, LLC.
Mr. Welsh has more than 20 years of experience under his belt in regard to reviewing permits, negotiating between landowners and telecom companies, and assisting with the development of contracts. Call us today at (720) 836-1777 to review your situation with him in a free consultation.