High court uphold FCC power in cell tower disputes

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court has affirmed the authority of federal regulators to try to speed local government decisions on proposals to build or expand cell phone towers.

The court voted 6-3 Monday to uphold an appeals court ruling in favor the Federal Communications Commission.

The case involves complaints to the FCC by telecommunications companies and the wireless industry that local authorities are delaying the placement and construction of wireless service facilities. The FCC said that local jurisdictions generally should act on applications within three months for existing structures and five months for new towers.

Several cities challenged the FCC’s authority.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the court, rejected the cities’ claims.

Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy, dissented.

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