RESULTS – February 17 City Council Small Cell Ordinance Workshop
City Council held a February 17, 1:30 pm workshop at City Hall to learn more about small cell technology and a proposed ordinance to assist the City in managing small cell technology roll out in North Myrtle Beach.
Staff from the Greenville, SC office of Gunnerson Consulting & Communication Site Services made the presentation. The consulting firm works for the City on this issue.
Federal law requires cities to allow small cell construction in public rights of way. Also, while cities can and do charge monthly or annual fees for ground and/or tower leases for the larger, “macro” cell towers, federal law prohibits cities from charging similar fees for small cell locations in public rights of way.
Local governments cannot stop the proliferation of small cell technology in their communities, but they can proactively adopt ordinances that create opportunities for such things as application and design reviews, density standard guidelines, and recoupment of costs associated with application review and rights of way management. Gunnerson Consulting personnel have been working with City staff to develop such an ordinance and the goal is to have a first reading of the proposed ordinance at a Council meeting sometime in April.
The documents associated with the workshop, including a draft of the City's proposed ordinance, are available via this link:
What Is Small Cell?
A small cell is a wireless transmitter and receiver designed to provide network coverage to smaller areas. It supplements the coverage offered by the larger, “macro” cell towers familiar to most people. The very tall, high-power “macro” towers broadcast network signals across long distances, while the small cell units placed closer together, often atop streetlights or other types of poles, work to enhance signal strength and capacity in densely developed environments like cities.
The most popular technology to utilize small cell is 5G technology. It is the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks, which cellular phone companies began deploying worldwide in 2019, and it is the planned successor to the 4G networks which provide connectivity to most current cellphones. Small cell technology provides lightning-fast connections and four times greater capacity, so pairing it with 5G results in more reliable cell phone service, faster data uploads, and greater day-to-day functionality, accessibility, and connectivity for residents and visitors.
ACCOMPANYING GRAPHIC: The accompanying graphic is from “Small Cell Infrastructure in Denver,” a September 2017 publication by Denver Public Works.