Imagine if a company you never heard of showed up one day and placed an antenna on a street light near your house or even right next to your window, with several bulky cabinets, lead acid batteries, noisy cooling fans, and untidy cabling.

A “Small Cell” with noisy cooling fans in Oakland, California. Under Senate Bill 649, this could be placed on the sidewalk right in front of your home, even if there are no wooden poles (holding up the antennas) in your neighborhood. The large cabinets include lead acid batteries for backup power, computer racks, electric meters and more.

If Senate Bill 649 passes through the…

Senate Bill 649 is a proposed law (mostly written by AT&T, Verizon and the lobbying group, CTIA), to allow bulky and large cell sites nearly anywhere (including with refrigerator-sized cabinets on streets and sidewalks in front of homes), with no local common sense discretion on location (next to bedroom windows…

Part 4 | Design Tips for Small Cells Based on Pole or Location Type (draft)

>> Link Back to Main Article: 10 Key Issues for California Cities & Counties on the Challenges of Small Cells & “Not So Small Cells”


Think in terms of three types of tests:

a) Is this a neighborhood where the wooden utility poles have already been undergrounded (electric/TV/phone wires placed…

APart 2 | Example photos of the good, the bad and the downright ugly

>> Link Back to Main Article: 10 Key Issues for California Cities & Counties on the Challenges of Small Cells & “Not So Small Cells”

This section shows a variety of Small Cells. There are 5 main categories of deployment:

  1. Attached to existing wooden light or utility poles (link to sample design preferences guide).
  2. Attached to existing steel/concrete poles and replacements of concrete poles.
  3. Integrated poles with antennas and equipment mostly hidden inside the pole.
  4. Attachments of antennas to a pole and some or all of the equipment on the ground or underground.
  5. Attachments to, or inside of, bus shelters, kiosks, and billboards or underground (experimental).
Example Alpha: A poorly designed Sprint site, by Mobilitie (also using business names such as Interstate Transport and Broadband, NC Relay Technology and Networking, and The ______STATE NAME HERE____Utility Pole Authority) on an existing steel light pole in the City of Los Angeles. Though, to be fair it does not feature the large and noisy cabinets often seen with some Crown Castle deployments (for example) for other carriers. The RF warning sticker is too large and bright and should be placed closer to the UE relay unit and facing away from homes toward the street. The exposed cabling is unacceptable. The main transmit antenna at the very top of the pole should be shrouded, along with the stick holding it up, so it is a more graceful addition to the pole. The UE relay unit (round object near banner) should have the side fins shrouded (so it won’t overheat), and the AC distribution panel should be placed under the sidewalk in a vault (square box). Credit:

Part 3 | Tips on Crafting Ordinances, Public Outreach, & Design

>> Link Back to Main Article: 10 Key Issues for California Cities & Counties on the Challenges of Small Cells & “Not So Small Cells”

This page discusses two example City ordinances; Citywide Policy Issues to Consider; issues to consider as you write your ordinance (permitting rules), public notification/outreach recommendations…

With only a few day left in the 2016 State legislative session, the wireless industry gutted and amended a proposed California law (AB 2788) on safe natural gas storage, into a law that would have allowed cell towers, rent-free, in front of your bedroom window or your driveway. Without any…

by Robert “Tripp” May, and Omar Masry, AICP
(published in the February 2016 newsletter for the Northern California chapter of the American Planning Association). Tripp is an attorney and partner with Telecom Law Firm. Omar Masry, AICP, has served as a City Planner in Los Angeles, Orange and San Francisco counties…

A few important items on “6409” | Eligible Facilities Requests
Federal Communications Commission Rules for Modifications* to Existing Wireless Facilities

Separate link to Tools for Adapting to AB 57 (New California law)

  • Can a waiver help? During oral arguments before the Court of Appeals, those representing the FCC were…

Omar Masry

City Planner/Senior Analyst. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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