Headed for a pole near you? City invites comments on ‘Small Wireless Facilities’ design

(seattle.gov photo – current installation similar to part of what the city’s proposing)

Wireless phone/internet service doesn’t just come via those big towers – it’s also provided by boxes on city utility/streetlight poles. The city’s expecting a lot more of them, so it’s come up with proposed design standards and is asking for your comments. The “small wireless facilities” might be canisters, or panel antennas, and the proposed standards – which you can review here – are very specific about the allowable size and height. The proposed standard also specify where these should not be installed. See images of the suggested designs here; you can comment through November 27th here.

15 Replies to "Headed for a pole near you? City invites comments on 'Small Wireless Facilities' design"

  • dsa November 14, 2019 (6:56 pm)

    I think I read through it, but I must have missed some things.Is this for 5G?More importantly I saw something about 500 feet?  Does that mean a grid of antennas at 500 foot intervals?  If so those would blanket the city in all residential areas.

  • 1994 November 14, 2019 (9:46 pm)

    I read that 5 G has difficulty navigating vegetation and rain which is why so many  installations are needed to make it operational. Maybe like  The $2 Billion Stealth bomber that can’t go out in the rain.

  • KayK November 14, 2019 (10:00 pm)

    Vendors need to be responsible for removal of obsolete equipment as well a installation.

  • Mj November 14, 2019 (10:20 pm)

    Does the City charge a franchise fee to use the poles?

  • Mike November 15, 2019 (6:26 am)

    Is anyone concerned about the health studies for 5g and why its banned in so many countries. We should be really concerned. I would not want one on the pole in front of my house.

  • Bill Schrier November 15, 2019 (7:12 am)

    Hi folks.  This is Bill Schrier – I was Chief Technology Officer for the City of Seattle from 2003-2012 and live in West Seattle.  To answer some of the questions, City Light definitely receives a fee – a pole attachment fee – for each such installation on its poles.  This also includes things like Comcast or Wave paying to hang their wires on each pole.  The rate structure is here:  https://www.seattle.gov/light/Rates/summary.aspAnd yes, these are undoubtedly for 5G.  5G is 10 to 100 times faster than 4G LTE.  5G uses many different parts of the spectrum.  Some 5G antennas and towers will be large – like the cell towers you see around the country today.   Many will be small cells like these.  5G also uses millimeter wave, which is quite susceptible to rain fade.  These antennas are almost undoubtedly not millimeter wave.

  • Airwolf November 15, 2019 (7:40 am)

    How will they be secured to prevent theft? 

  • Friend O'Dinghus November 15, 2019 (8:10 am)

    Thank you Mr. Schrier for the additional information about the hows & whys. May I ask, if 5G uses millimeter waves, which are susceptible to rain fade, then how can the speeds we hear touted be achieved? Is it the case that millimeter waves are only a component of the 5G stream, and thusly only knock off the top end potential speeds during times when the conditions are adverse? Is this why the speeds are always expressed as a comparatively large range of possibilities? Thanks for the extra info.

  • Mj November 15, 2019 (11:54 am)

    Bill thank you

  • Bill Schrier November 15, 2019 (3:47 pm)

    Airwolf:  Theft typically isn’t an issue because the antennas are at least 14 feet off the ground.  You’d have to have a ladder or bucket truck to remove them, and it would be pretty obvious to the neighborhood something strange is happening.Friend O’Dinghus:  The rain fade is similar to the rain fade you get with a satellite TV dish.  It is not absolute, i.e. all or nothing.  The signal is gradually attenuated as the rain gets heavier.  5G uses some new, unique techniques, e.g. “beam-forming” to help counteract this as well as to achieve the higher speed.  Also 5G uses a wide variety of different spectrum bands, depending on the carrier.  One is millimeter wave spectrum, but 5G also uses more traditional cellular spectrum, e.g. 600 megahertz, 700 megahertz, and other bands, depending on the carrier.   So a 5G device such as a tablet or a smart phone will have multiple different antennas inside to receive the different bands.   Here’s an article which explains things better than I can in a reply comment:  https://www.androidauthority.com/what-is-5g-mmwave-933631/

    • Friend O'Dinghus November 15, 2019 (5:35 pm)

      You Sir are a gentleman and a scholar. Thank you!

  • wsres November 15, 2019 (7:14 pm)

    Seeing some of the messes makes our neighborhoods look ugly. 

  • anonyme November 16, 2019 (7:01 am)

    I share Mike’s concerns.  I live on a corner that already has a massive amount of junk on the poles and worry about the effects.  I don’t want one of these added to the array, nor do I care about 5g.

  • Bill Schrier November 16, 2019 (7:40 am)

    Looks like I was wrong about the pole attachment fee.   For 5G antennas – and presumably these are for 5G – Seattle is looking to charge $1927 per pole per year.  The FCC recommends $270.  See Geekwire article from yesterday here:  https://www.geekwire.com/2019/cities-battle-feds-5g-rollout-tech-leaders-worry-seattle-will-fall-short-new-digital-divide/

  • Viet Nguyen November 16, 2019 (8:31 am)

    Adding to this discussion, modern small cells are actually pretty tiny nowadays. Backpack size or less. Some even laptop sized. They’re small enough to even be placed indoors. They’re visually a lot less impactful. You won’t be looking at thousands of new macro cell towers. For some cell sites, you might not even realize what you’re seeing is a cell site. In fact, because they’re small and located closer to you, they need less power to send out a signal, which is better environmentally. 

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