What control does the City have over 5G small cell facilities?

On September 26, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Declaratory Ruling and a Third Report and Order, referred to as the "FCC Order". The FCC Order implements industry demands to remove barriers and accelerate the transition to 5G deployment, accelerating the United States' transition to 5G cellular networks.

FCC Ruling was effective on December 25, 2018, and includes that: 

  • Cities shall not prohibit or effectively prohibit installation of 5G infrastructure. Discuss that the City cannot regulate due to RF transmission.
  • The City is able to review and approve the 5G sites based on aesthetic considerations only.
  • The City is required to approve a submission based on a “Shot clock”, this is the time the City has to approve a submitted 5G site.

The League of California Cities is currently challenging the FCC ruling (link). 

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1. How will 5G be used by city residents and businesses?
2. What control does the City have over 5G small cell facilities?
3. Who governs the location of wireless facilities?

The City reviews and approves the location of individual wireless applications within parameters established by both federal and state laws.

Collectively, these federal and state laws prohibit cities from:

  1. Denying a carrier the ability to provide service either through explicit prohibitions (example: banning new wireless facilities) or through actions that effectively prohibit service. 
  2. Denying wireless applications based on health concerns, such as those expressed about radio frequency emissions. 
  3. Stalling or failing to make a decision.  The Telecommunications Act imposes a short time frame, often referred to as a shot clock, for a city to review a wireless application.  Failure for a city to act results in the application being automatically approved without the ability to impose conditions of approval.
  4. Denying a carrier from using the public right-of-way to install their equipment. 

4. What is the City doing to regulate 5G facilities?
5. Can potential health effects prevent these installations from being approved?

Federal law (Telecommunications Act of 1996) prohibits cities from considering health impacts when taking action on a wireless application if it meets the radio frequency levels established by the FCC.  

6. Can the City require fiber underground as an alternative?
7. What is the application process for a 5G facility?
8. What control does the City have between public and private site installations?
9. What type of facilities could be used for small cell wireless (5G) equipment?
10. What is the status of application for 5G sites in the City?
11. Is there an appeal process for approved 5G sites?