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Tweak of Tower Marking Language Moves Forward

FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 includes language that provided a clarification related to marking certain telecom towers

The tower industry is applauding language in a measure that passed the House late last week that clarifies a tower marking issue that emerged over a year ago.

The passage of H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, in the U.S. House of Representatives included language offered by Representative David Rouzer (R-NC) that provided an important clarification to the 2016 FAA reauthorization related to the marking of certain telecommunications towers.

Specifically, the language clarifies that covered towers “shall be marked or entered into a de-identified database.” In a nutshell, the language clarifies that certain towers between 50 and 200 feet tall will not have to be marked if they are registered in an FAA location database.

That amends the FAA’s Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016, which if implemented could have forced expensive retrofits to potentially 50,000 existing towers, according to a release from the FCC. Other observers said it also would raise tower prices for the next generation of wireless services, but with little gain to air safety.

[Read about NATE’s praise for Commissioner O’Rielly’s stance on tower marking.]

An industry-wide coalition of partner organizations, including the National Association of Broadcasters, lobbied for the revision, which will take effect not later than one year after the date of enactment of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

“Absent changes made by this language in H.R. 4, our industry would have faced a tower marking mandate at a time when we are already experiencing a workforce shortage. This scenario would have had a significant economic impact on our industry and would have strained an already busy workforce with additional tower climbs required to mark towers,” said Todd Schlekeway, executive director of National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE).

Schlekeway said towers that are most dangerous – those that are temporary and difficult for pilots to see, such as Meteorological Evaluation Towers – would still require both marking and registration in the location database.

In addition to NATE and NAB, the Wireless Infrastructure Association, Competitive Carriers Association and CTIA were all on board with the wording change to the FAA’s tower rules.

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 4) now goes to the Senate.

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