Local Govt’s React to FCC’s ‘Small Cell’ Rules

May 26, 2021

Mobile wireless services function by receiving and transmitting information between devices over radio waves through a network of antennae and similar equipment. Each collection of communications equipment operating over a given area is commonly known as a “cell.” In legacy networks (for example, 3G and 4G), telecommunications providers generally use macro cell sites to provide coverage over wide areas.

The newest generation of cellular wireless technology is known as “5G,” for fifth generation. It is seen as transformational because it provides increased bandwidth, allows more devices to be connected at the same time, and is so fast that connected devices receive near instantaneous responses from servers.

5G leverages 4G macro cell sites but also relies on “small cells” with coverage areas of hundreds of feet. Because the coverage area is small, an effective 5G network requires placement of a large number of cell sites in close proximity to each other. A small cell typically consists of a single small antenna and related accessory equipment placed on existing utility poles or street lights within public rights of way.

Reprinted with permission from New York Law Journal, Wednesday, May 26, 2021, Vol 265 – No. 100.

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