Clinton Plan to Help Providers of New Mobile Phone, Data Services
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A presidential directive should help companies building the next generation of cellular phone and paging systems across the country.
President Clinton on Thursday directed the federal government to craft a policy within 90 days to give companies easier access to federal land to locate transmission towers.
The issue is critically important to companies that have won licenses from the Federal Communications Commission to provide a host of new mobile services, called personal communications.
Those services include a new phone service more mobile and less expensive than existing cellular and two-way paging, messaging, fax and other data services.
Companies including Sprint in an alliance with cable companies Telecommunications Inc., Cox Cable and Comcast Corp., a consortium of cellular companies of Nynex, Bell Atlantic, US West and AirTouch, and AT&T won licenses to provide the new mobile phone service at an FCC auction.
The FCC has auctioned hundreds of licenses for the new phone and data services and plans to auction more licenses later this year.
The cellular industry hailed Clinton’s action.
``This will speed up the deployment of personal communications services throughout the country,″ said Michael Houghton, spokesman for Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association.
The new policy will not pre-empt federal, state and local laws and regulations and would be sensitive to protecting national parks and wildlife refuges. And it won’t include lands held by the United States in trust for individual or Indian tribal governments.
Companies will not be permitted to put advertising on antennas located on federal buildings or land.
Under existing law and regulations, many companies have to obtain permission from local government to put up their towers. And when companies want to put towers on top of buildings, they also have to obtain the permission of the building’s owner. Companies may also have to pay for the right to use a building or land.
Houghton said both House and Senate bills overhauling the nation’s 61-year-old telecommunications laws would provide some help to companies by barring cities from freezing or delaying requests to put up towers.