As 5G wireless service technology is being rolled out across the country, one provider is already installing small cells with the capability to handle the advanced wireless service around the Germantown community.
Verizon is one of the first carriers that is deploying this new small cell technology in the greater Shelby County area.
For those who may not be familiar, small cells are short range cell facilities that work in conjunction with a provider’s existing larger cell tower infrastructure to expand its network and to strategically add localized capacity to areas where its customers experience inadequate or inconsistent coverage.
Unlike cell towers that require a fairly significant footprint, these small cells are being deployed on existing public and privately-owned structures, such as street lights, electric poles, buildings and billboards.
In 2018, the State of Tennessee passed the Competitive Wireless Broadband Investment, Deployment and Safety Act, which granted service providers access to deploy infrastructure along the streets, highways, and public right of ways of the cities, counties, and the state.
Similar legislation had been passed in 34 other states in an effort for the country to remain competitive and have a uniform process. Aside from granting access, the state legislation also created a framework for local approval, instituted uniform fees and rates as well as established parameters for local governance of small cell facilities deployed within the right of way.
A city is not required to establish or implement an application process; however, any implemented processes and requirements must be consistent with the law and render decisions in accordance with the state law.
In 2019, the Germantown Board of Mayor and Alderman passed an amendment to the zoning ordinance which is consistent with the framework that was established by state law.
A provider must request a permit from the City and the City must verify that the application is within the parameters established by state law. If the applicant meets all the parameters, the City must accept the permit application within 60 days.
Per state law, the City does not have the authority to request specific locations for small cell installations. In addition, the City also has minimal control over aesthetics, per the state legislation.
If you have seen these new taller small cell poles going up around the city replacing existing light poles. These new light poles being installed which are approximately 10 feet taller to accommodate the small cell antennas.
With the implementation of this new technology, improved cell service, along with increased speed and capacity will be forthcoming. Germantown residents and businesses expect ubiquitous, high speed wireless coverage; however, the service within the City is not meeting customer demand.
One of the key performance areas of the Germantown Forward 2030 long range strategic plan is technology, with an emphasis on how to manage technologies strategically and invest infrastructure dollars wisely to meet the expectations of citizens and the business community. One of the objectives of this key performance area is to improve wireless coverage.