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Small Cell/Wireless Facilities in the Right-of-Way

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The City was approached by the industry to look at the existing Right-of-Way Regulations and Franchise and Master License Agreements. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a new ruling that will affect the existing documents. City staff has been working with the industry to address some concerns and reflect requirements within the pending FCC Rule (will go into effect January 14, 2019). Please see updates below for the latest on these revisions.

pole_mounted_small_cell_antenna_002Small cell facilities are becoming increasingly popular as a way of expanding coverage and increasing network capacity. With mobile data traffic expected to double annually, providers have indicated that small cell facilities are necessary to expand the capacity of wireless networks.

Requests for small cell antenna installations in the City are expected to rise dramatically in the coming years as the need for data increases. The City has adopted the necessary regulations and criteria to meet the requirements of federal law while respecting the integrity of our residential neighborhoods and commercial areas.

The nodes and antennas are often installed on existing right-of-way structures like traffic lights, telephone poles, and streetlights. Companies that want to install small cell facilities in the City's right-of-way must first enter into a Franchise/ Right-of-Way Agreement, which establishes things like location, placement on existing City structures (light poles), and compensation.

While the City has the right to manage these requests, the City must comply with federal statutes: (Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (SEC.6409); and Telecommunications Act of 1996 (322(c)(7)).

Key elements of the federal regulations include:

  • There can be no discrimination among all providers.
  • There can be no regulation that prohibits the provision of personal wireless services.
  • Any requests have to be approved by the City in a “reasonable period of time” (established by a “shot clock” method) from the date, a “complete application” is submitted. There are multiple “shot clocks” depending on the type of application, with time frames ranging from 60 - 150 days.
  • The City must identify and request any missing data within 30 days of submission and cannot ask for additional data after the applicant has complied with the request.
  • Regulations may not be based on environmental effects of radio frequency emissions if these emissions are in compliance with FCC regulations.

The Mayor & City Council investigated a number of options on how best to address small cell facilities within the rights-of-way. The Mayor & City Council also conducted multiple public meetings to determine the best approach for our community.

In December 2017, the Mayor & City Council adopted ordinance provisions, standardized agreements, and regulations governing the City’s rights-of-way. The following is a summary of the documents and the City’s approach to approvals:

  • Standardized Franchise/Right-of-Way and Master License Agreements between the City and interested parties have been developed
  • Ordinance changes were implemented for both installations in the right-of-way and on private property
  • The City adopted Regulations for Installations within the Rights–of-Way that address the application process and the associated requirements related to design elements such as placement, design, size, etc.
  • The Regulations allow for staff approval if the proposed installations meet the City’s Regulations and ordinance provisions

Copies of the adopted documents can be found in the Documents Section of this page. The City anticipated that it would be necessary to update the relevant documents as technology or additional FCC rules are issued. Previous and future actions of the City will be posted to the updates below.


Click header to read past updates.

March 5, 2019
March 1, 2019
February 4, 2019
January 8, 2019
2018 Updates
2017 Updates
2016 Updates