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Small Cell Technology (5G)

Small Cell Technology
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Overview

As cell technology has advanced, people use multiple devices to do things like talk, text, stream music, watch large videos, and post on social media. This increase in usage has caused an increase in cellular data usage.

While the large cell towers built years ago had the capacity to keep devices connected to a network with only occasional coverage issues, large increases in mobile data traffic have led to connectivity issues. The more data people use on the network, the slower everyone’s connections become.

The purpose of small cell networks is to keep up with the demand for cellular data by strengthening the coverage area and helping with internet speed.


What Are Small Cells?

A small cell network consists of a series of low-powered antennas or nodes that strengthen coverage and data transfer speeds in heavily populated areas where devices compete for bandwidth such as heavily populated residential areas, downtown areas, and shopping centers.

Small cells are often attached to existing infrastructure in the public right of way, like utility poles and street lights.




Government Oversight and Limitations

Since fall 2018, federal and state governments passed new regulations and legislation regarding small cell technology. The City of Roswell has updated its Code of Ordinances to comply with federal and state regulations. However, Due to the new Federal regulations and State laws, the City has limited flexibility in regulating or limiting the placement of small cell technologies in the rights-of-way or on public property.

Federal Government

In September 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Declaratory Ruling with the goal of accelerating the deployment of 5G wireless broadband services across the country.

To allow small cell transmitters to be deployed on a national scale, the FCC's order removed regulatory barriers by limiting state and local regulatory authority over wireless infrastructure deployment.



State Government

The State of Georgia passed legislation consistent with Federal regulations that went into effect October 1, 2019.



Local Government

Roswell Mayor and Council approved an amendment to the City's existing ordinance (originally approved in 2016) to bring the City Code into compliance with state legislation that went into effect October 1, 2019. The City of Roswell's ordinance will be limited by state and federal regulations.

Highlights of the amended ordinance include:

  • Fees: The maximum amount of fees that a city can charge for applications where equipment is being attached to an existing pole, an existing pole is being replaced by a taller pole at the same location, or the applicant is requesting a new pole.
  • Utilization of Existing Poles: The current City ordinance and the revised ordinance based on Senate Bill (SB) 66 makes it difficult for utility owners to install new poles. There is a higher fee and a justification requirement proving why they are unable attach to an existing pole in the right-of-way or replace an existing pole with a taller one.
  • Permitting: The City of Roswell issues permits for small cell installations on City-owned property. Georgia Department of Transportation is responsible for permit applications on state right-of-way.
  • Height: This ordinance provides guidance to the utility owners for poles shorter than 50 feet. Any pole installation of 50 feet or greater from ground level is treated as a cell tower.



Roswell Small Cell Technology Ordinance

Roswell City Council approved an amendment to Article 21.2, Section 21.2.25 (Small Cell Technology) in Chapter 21 of the City of Roswell Code of Ordinances on October 28, 2019.

This amendment to Section 21.2.25 brings the city code into compliance with state legislation that went into effect October 1, 2019.

The required changes primarily address the maximum amount of fees that a city can charge for applications where equipment is being attached to an existing pole, an existing pole is being replaced by a taller pole at the same location, or the applicant is requesting a new pole. The current City ordinance and the revised ordinance based on Senate Bill (SB) 66 makes it difficult for utility owners to install new poles. There is a higher fee and a justification requirement proving why they are unable to attach to an existing pole in the right-of-way or replace an existing pole with a taller one. This ordinance provides guidance to the utility owners for poles shorter than 50 feet. Any pole installation of 50 feet or greater from ground level is treated as a cell tower.



Approved Small Cell Sites Map

The Roswell Approved Small Cell Sites Map indicates approved permits to place small cell technology poles. The map also indicates if they are using collocation of an existing pole, upgrading an existing pole or placing a new pole.

View the Roswell Approved Small Cell Sites Map





Frequently Asked Questions

Expand/Contract Questions and Answers

  • Do the permits require fees?

  • Does the City have the ability to deny a permit request?

  • Does the City have the ability to prevent new poles from being installed within a subdivision?

  • How do I contact the utility owners that have approved permits?

  • How does the City benefit from having utility companies use our rights of way?

  • Is there a number I can call if I have questions or suggestions?

  • What factors are City staff looking at when analyzing a proposed location?

  • Which utility owners have gotten permit requests approved?

  • Who pays to have these devices installed and maintained?