Wireless Communication Facilities Code Rewrite

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Wireless technology is constantly evolving. As smart phone usage has increased substantially in recent years, wireless service providers have had to adapt their networks to meet increased demand. To do this, providers are deploying small cell wireless communication facilities to boost capacity and improve data speeds. In 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed laws that aim to expedite deployment of these small cell networks nation-wide.

In response, the City will rewrite the chapter of its municipal code that regulates all wireless communication facilities: small cell wireless facilities and the larger macro facilities. This comprehensive rewrite will include updates for permitting, location, and design/aesthetics of all wireless communication facilities within the parameters of federal law.

REGULATIONS

Federal regulations limit what local jurisdictions can do to regulate the deployment of wireless communication facilities, including small cell facilities. The table below describes some of the limitations the city has in regulating the deployment of wireless facilities as well as areas the city can regulate.


What the City is limited in regulating:
What the City can regulate:
  • Can’t deny the facilities
  • Restricted permit review times
  • Can't regulate radio frequency
  • Charge unreasonable fees
  • Design standards must be reasonable
  • Can’t prohibit deployment
  • Design and concealment standards
  • Develop siting criteria
  • Charge reasonable fees
  • Conduct environmental review
  • Regulate in public right of way
  • Regulate antenna attachments



SMALL CELL TECHNOLOGY

Small cells use small antennas and radios to add capacity and coverage to the existing 4G (fourth generation) wireless network and facilitate the roll-out of 4G and 5G (fifth generation) technology. Small cells must be placed lower and spaced more closely than the large cell facilities of today.

The City may specify a preferred design or concealment technique for these facilities. Potential preferred concealment techniques include: cells mounted to buildings; attached to a light pole/utility pole; or located within a wireless-only pole.



Graphic representations of possible concealment techniques for Small Cells. Source: National League of Cities

REGULATING TELECOMMUNICATION RADIO FREQUENCY EMISSIONS

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), and not the City, has the sole authority over regulating human exposure to radio frequency emissions under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The FCC has adopted rules governing radio frequency emissions. More information about radio frequency emissions can be found on the FCC’s website, at: https://www.fcc.gov/engineering-technology/electromagnetic-compatibility-division/radio-frequency-safety/faq/rf-safety#Q27. The City is prohibited by federal law from banning wireless communication facilities if they meet federal regulatory standards.


Once the City has prepared a draft Wireless Communication Facilities ordinance, it will be available on this website for public review and comment.


Wireless technology is constantly evolving. As smart phone usage has increased substantially in recent years, wireless service providers have had to adapt their networks to meet increased demand. To do this, providers are deploying small cell wireless communication facilities to boost capacity and improve data speeds. In 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed laws that aim to expedite deployment of these small cell networks nation-wide.

In response, the City will rewrite the chapter of its municipal code that regulates all wireless communication facilities: small cell wireless facilities and the larger macro facilities. This comprehensive rewrite will include updates for permitting, location, and design/aesthetics of all wireless communication facilities within the parameters of federal law.

REGULATIONS

Federal regulations limit what local jurisdictions can do to regulate the deployment of wireless communication facilities, including small cell facilities. The table below describes some of the limitations the city has in regulating the deployment of wireless facilities as well as areas the city can regulate.


What the City is limited in regulating:
What the City can regulate:
  • Can’t deny the facilities
  • Restricted permit review times
  • Can't regulate radio frequency
  • Charge unreasonable fees
  • Design standards must be reasonable
  • Can’t prohibit deployment
  • Design and concealment standards
  • Develop siting criteria
  • Charge reasonable fees
  • Conduct environmental review
  • Regulate in public right of way
  • Regulate antenna attachments



SMALL CELL TECHNOLOGY

Small cells use small antennas and radios to add capacity and coverage to the existing 4G (fourth generation) wireless network and facilitate the roll-out of 4G and 5G (fifth generation) technology. Small cells must be placed lower and spaced more closely than the large cell facilities of today.

The City may specify a preferred design or concealment technique for these facilities. Potential preferred concealment techniques include: cells mounted to buildings; attached to a light pole/utility pole; or located within a wireless-only pole.



Graphic representations of possible concealment techniques for Small Cells. Source: National League of Cities

REGULATING TELECOMMUNICATION RADIO FREQUENCY EMISSIONS

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), and not the City, has the sole authority over regulating human exposure to radio frequency emissions under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The FCC has adopted rules governing radio frequency emissions. More information about radio frequency emissions can be found on the FCC’s website, at: https://www.fcc.gov/engineering-technology/electromagnetic-compatibility-division/radio-frequency-safety/faq/rf-safety#Q27. The City is prohibited by federal law from banning wireless communication facilities if they meet federal regulatory standards.


Once the City has prepared a draft Wireless Communication Facilities ordinance, it will be available on this website for public review and comment.


  • City Booth at Farmer's Market

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    12 months ago

    On July 24th, the City had a booth at the Sammamish Farmer's Market to give citizens an opportunity to engage with staff about the Wireless Communications Facilities code rewrite. The City's project lead, Dennis Osborn, manned the booth to explain key aspects of the project and to field questions. The City is eager to hear your input on the code rewrite and wants to answer any questions you have about the code change and how it could impact you.

    Dennis will be back at the Farmer's Market on August 7th, and hopes to see you there! Please feel free to stop by and to bring any questions you have. You can also post your questions on this page using the Q&A tool. Staff will be answering those questions as they come in. Thanks!

    On July 24th, the City had a booth at the Sammamish Farmer's Market to give citizens an opportunity to engage with staff about the Wireless Communications Facilities code rewrite. The City's project lead, Dennis Osborn, manned the booth to explain key aspects of the project and to field questions. The City is eager to hear your input on the code rewrite and wants to answer any questions you have about the code change and how it could impact you.

    Dennis will be back at the Farmer's Market on August 7th, and hopes to see you there! Please feel free to stop by and to bring any questions you have. You can also post your questions on this page using the Q&A tool. Staff will be answering those questions as they come in. Thanks!