What is the Next Generation (5G) of Wireless Telecommunications?
The field of telecommunications continues to evolve at a very fast pace. 5G is the 5th generation of mobile networks and the technology that is being developed will significantly increase data speeds and support the development of other new technologies, such as autonomous vehicles, smart homes, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things with billions of connected devices. Wireless access for homes and enhanced mobile services are likely to be the first applications using the new 5G technology, with the first mobile devices providing 5G connectivity expected to become available in 2020.
Unlike older wireless technology (3G, 4G) that rely on a network of microwave dish and panel antennas that can receive and send data over a large area (macro cells), 5G antennas are generally smaller in size (each antenna equivalent to the size of a tool cabinet) and have a more limited coverage area of less than 1,000 feet, meaning they are most effective where there is a line of sight between the antenna and the user or another antenna. This changes the infrastructure needed to support 5G telecommunications. Rather than utilize a network of antennas mounted on tall transmission towers spaced miles apart, 5G antennas require a dense network of closely-spaced antennas that can be installed on utility poles and buildings that are closer to the user base.
What has Happened Recently?
In support of the goal to advance the country’s infrastructure for the next generation of wireless telecommunications facilities, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted new requirements on September 26, 2018 which streamlined and removed regulatory barriers that were perceived to inhibit the deployment of advanced wireless communications services, such as 5G. The FCC’s actions placed new limits on state and local government’s regulatory authority over small wireless infrastructure located within the public rights of way, established limits on the amount of fees that can be charged for use of publicly owned utility poles for the installation of telecommunications equipment (such as antennas) as well as the amount of fees that can be charged for the review of telecommunications facilities. Also included in the FCC’s action are more stringent deadlines for local government to process small wireless applications, and stricter limits on local government’s ability to require undergrounding of equipment and application of aesthetic considerations in their review of small wireless telecommunications facilities.
What is the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act?
The Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act (the “Act”), 50 ILCS 840/1 et seq., which was signed into law on April 12, 2018, as Public Act 100-0585, provides the regulations and process for permitting and deploying small wireless facilities within rights-of-way and on private property throughout Illinois (excluding Chicago). Small wireless facilities, also known as a “small cell,” are most often attached to utility or other poles. Small wireless facilities enable the transmission of data and wireless communications to and from a wireless device, such as a computer, cell phone, tablet, or new “smart home” types of devices (thermostats, refrigerators) and even, in the near future, driverless cars. The Act states that these small wireless facilities are critical to delivering wireless access to advanced technology, broadband and 9-1-1 services to homes, businesses and schools in Illinois. The telecommunications industry drafted and sought approval of the Act in order to roll out a 5G telecommunications network over the course of the next couple of years using small wireless facility installations attached to utility and other poles with minimal say by municipalities on where the installations are sited. The Village can subject small wireless facilities to zoning review in the zoning districts when located outside the right-of-way.
Meeting Agenda and Minutes
Click here to view the August 15, 2017 recommendation to approve an ordinance amending the Village Code of Hinsdale relative to the permitting, regulation and deployment of small wireless facilities.
March 5, 2019 meeting agenda, click here.
March 5, 2019 meeting minutes, click here.
Resolution Adopting Written Design Standards for Small Wireless Facilities
Click here to view the resolution adopting written design standards for small wireless facilities.
Design Standards and What is Regulated
Click here to view the design standards.
What Is Regulated?
As noted above, the Act will allow placement of small wireless facilities on municipal utility poles (light poles, traffic signals, etc.) of a telecommunication provider’s choosing, subject to compliance with certain basic standards regarding safety and aesthetics, and regardless of whether the municipality specifically agrees to such placement. While the Village’s authority to regulate small wireless facilities is limited by the Act, the Village can, under the Act, and as specified in the Ordinance:
1. Require permits be applied for which include specific information, such as a structural analysis of the pole to be used completed by a certified engineer, specifics about the equipment, construction schedules, etc.
NOTE: There are strict permit processing and approval timelines contained in the Act and set forth in the Ordinance.
2. Require an agreement to be entered into with the Village for placement of small wireless facilities on Village-owned poles (not ComEd or other utility poles).
3. Impose Collocation Requirements which can:
a. Ensure space be reserved for required public safety uses;
b. Ensure that a small wireless facility not interfere with public safety uses;
c. Ensure compliance with certain design standards (these standards were developed by staff and have been previously approved by the Board);
d. Impose specific protections for historic landmarks and in designated historic districts.
4. Place height limitations on the installation of small wireless facilities on existing poles or for new poles in accordance with the maximum heights specified in the Act, and impose a variation process for the those applicants that desire to exceed the limitation;
5. Implement permit application fees (set in the Ordinance at the statutory maximum of $1,000 when a new pole is involved; $650 for a single site with existing pole; $350 per small wireless facility when multiple sites for placement on existing poles are submitted in a single application); and
6. Implement a recurring annual rate for each small wireless facility located upon a Village owned pole (set by the Ordinance at the statutory maximum of $200/year).
Summary of Authority and Regulations
Summary of Authority and Regulations
Telecommunications companies, including Verizon, AT&T and others, are preparing to roll out a 5G network in the Village and throughout the State and nation.
The method of creating the 5G network that has been chosen by telecommunications companies is to utilize a large number of small, low power antennas, also known as small cell antennas, placed on existing utility poles or new poles, every several hundred feet.
To accomplish its goal in Illinois, the telecommunications companies wrote a bill, known as the Illinois Small Wireless Facility Deployment Act (the “State Act”), that was passed by the Illinois General Assembly in 2017, over the objections of local governments throughout the State.
The Telecommunications Industry has also, again over the objections of local governments nationwide, successfully lobbied the Federal Communications Commission in recent years to slowly erode local control over small cell and other telecommunications installations.
A Declaratory Ruling passed last year by the FCC echoes many things in the State Act – so both the State Act and federal law severely limit the ability of the Village and other local governments to prevent small cell antennas within the community.
The Village Board was given a PowerPoint presentation on the State Act by the Village Attorney last year when it was enacted, discussed the Act and its requirements, and adopted an Ordinance that reflects what limited controls the Village does have under State law. Please click here to view the presentation.
The Village does not agree with the State Act. Just to reiterate some of the objectionable things about the State Act.
- The State Act requires the Village to allow small cell antennas on municipal streetlights or other Village-owned utility poles of a telecommunication company’s choice and caps the amount the companies need to pay the Village for those installations.
- The State Act strips away the Village’s traditional zoning authority and requires the antenna placements on Village poles to be permitted uses in all rights-of-way.
- The State Act allows the telecommunications companies to place small cell antennas on ComEd poles or other non-Village poles in the rights-of-way, again, as permitted uses.
- The State Act requires the Village to allow small cell antennas on new stand-alone poles installed by telecommunications companies in municipal rights-of-way, again at locations primarily chosen by the telecommunication companies.
The State Act strips away the Village’s traditional zoning authority over these new poles too, and requires that they be permitted uses in all rights-of-way.
Under the State Act, the only authority the Village is given over locations within the right-of-way is the ability to propose, in the case of a new utility pole, that the telecommunications provider place it instead on an existing pole within 100 feet of the proposed new pole location. The provider shall accept the proposed alternative location “if it has the right to use the alternate structure on reasonable terms and conditions and the alternate location and structure does not impose technical limits or additional material costs as determined by the [provider].”
The Village would like providers to place their small cell antennas on ComEd poles where possible.
The Village is allowed, under both federal and the State Act, control over aesthetics.
Last year, the Village Board developed, in cooperation with Village staff, written design standards that telecommunication companies must adhere to in putting small cell antenna installations within the Village. While the Village can’t prevent these installations, the Village is doing it's best to ensure they meet community standards from a design standpoint.
The Village doesn't know how many small cell antennas will be installed in Hinsdale.
The Village cannot force providers to locate on poles with each other. Again, the State Act written by the telecommunication companies prevents the Village from doing that.
Federal law has, since 1996, preempted local governments from considering radio frequency in telecommunications equipment siting decisions so long as the equipment meets federal standards.
The provision of federal law that limits local authority over radio frequency emissions is in the “Communications Act of 1934, at 47 U.S.C. 332(c)(7)(B)(iv):
(iv) No State or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Commission’s regulations concerning such emissions.
For those who want more information on the safety issues, the FCC has an RF Safety FAQ page, which we will post a link to on the Village’s website: https://www.fcc.gov/engineering-technology/electromagnetic-compatibility-division/radio-frequency-safety/faq/rf-safety#Q6
Related Small Cell Website Links
The Illinois Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act, can be found here.
A Link to the FCC’s Declaratory Ruling and Third Report and Order from September, 2018 (which also acted to limit the authority of local governments related to the deployment of small cell technology) can be found here.
A Link to the FCC’s RF Safety FAQ page can be found here.
A link to Public Act 100-0585 can be found here.
Pending Small Wireless Facilities Permit Applications
No applications have been submitted at this time.
Contact your Federal and State Officals
230 S. Dearborn St Suite 3892, Chicago, IL 60604
230 S. Dearborn Street Suite 3900, Chicago, IL 60604
3223 N. Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
928 Warren Ave, Downers Grove, IL 60515
17W715 E. Butterfield Rd, Suite F, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
1 S. Cass Ave, Westmont Centre Suite 205, Westmont, IL 60559
Office of the Governor
James R. Thompson Center
100 W. Randolph, 16-100, Chicago, IL 60601
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