Small Cell Overview | SmartWorks Partners

Background of

SMALL CELL TECHNOLOGY

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WHY SMALL CELL?

According to the FCC, small cells are low-powered wireless base stations that function like cells in a mobile wireless network, typically covering targeted indoor or localized outdoor areas ranging in size from homes and offices to stadiums, shopping malls, hospitals, and metropolitan outdoor spaces. The use of small cells are ideal in these types of areas because of the challenges that come with bringing coverage to metropolitan areas.

 

As new infrastructure fills the skyline and the lack of open space in cities leaves less room for traditional cell towers, attaching small cell wireless facilities to street poles on city streets and in the right-of-way has become the new wave of bringing more accessible broadband to constituents. Since these small cells are collocated to poles on the ground level, there is less interference to network signals allowing for higher capacity. However, a larger number of small cells are needed, as they emit lower power, than other wireless solutions. 

AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?

This expansion of new technology should be welcomed, but it should not give wireless providers the right to overrule cities and municipalities' local control. Right now, federal and state legislation concerning the deployment of small cell wireless facilities is sweeping through the nation. As of now, 23 states (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii,  Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia) passed bills that focused on doing the following:

 

1. streamlining processing times for applications and permits;

2. capping collocation, application, and ROW fees;

3. limiting city/municipality's design aesthetics jurisdictions;

4. limiting city/municipality's control over denying applications for reasons outside of the bill's requirements. 

 

This type of legislation is not going away. If anything, it is picking up steam and traction in legislative sessions throughout the U.S., and it does not just affect cities and municipalities, but also everyday people. With these new laws, a small wireless facility can be located within hundreds of feet of homes. That type of close exposure from radio frequency radiation to where people eat and sleep can lead to complicated health problems, as scientific studies have proven. Historic districts can be tainted with unsightly and bulky technology without the city's approval. Without more local control, network providers can also tack these facilities on an unlimited number of poles throughout the right-of-way causing an eyesore for the city's layout and its design aesthetics. The list of issues continue. 

 

Our stance on the ongoing small cell legislation is a unique one compared to other telecom companies. Our client base is solely government entities. We track legislation and provide accessible insights here on our website, so others can be informed and armed with accurate information on the issue at hand. Under our Legislative Center tab, one can find routinely updated articles and small cell bill summaries on state and federal legislation and the work of Federal Communications Commission's Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC). 

 

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