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Posted on: December 2, 2019

The Challenges of Improving Cellular Service


The Challenges of Improving Cellular Service New cellular communication services like the Fifth generation (5G) wireless connectivity is integral to the widespread internet of things (IoT) deployment. Gartner predicts there will be 25 billion connected devices by 2020; Cisco predicts 50 billion. If sufficient bandwidth is going to be available to support these devices and the related IoT applications, cellular companies are going to need to efficiently and cost-effectively deploy 5G infrastructure. The State of Illinois General Assembly recently passed the Small Wireless Facilities Act Enacted into Law. SB 1451 was signed into law on April 12, 2018. This law will affect all municipalities in Illinois (including home rule municipalities with the exception of Chicago). The law took effect on June 1, 2018. The Village has revised the Village Code to bring the code in line with SB 1451. Section 15 of the new Act restricts the regulatory authority of Illinois municipalities and certain other units of local government over small wireless facilities. Small wireless facilities are defined under the new law as wireless facilities that (1) have antenna that are no more than 6 cubic feet in volume and (2) all equipment associated with the antenna does not cumulatively exceed 25 cubic feet in volume. These are usually attached to existing utility poles or other support structures. In order to maintain signal strength for 5G wireless connectivity, cellular companies will utilize small cells and will need more wireless infrastructure and towers within close proximity of one another — a concept known as “densification.” Constructing the requisite number of towers to deliver robust 5G connectivity will require a large capital expense by these companies. It would also require significant capital to obtain the rights to deploy this infrastructure on private land, as wireless providers have traditionally had to do for macro sites. It is much cheaper, however, for these companies to obviate the need to pay for private lease rights and instead place the small cell infrastructure in the public rights-of-way. Hence where the conflict arises — cellular companies have lobbied for state legislation that gives them virtually unlimited rights to use public rights-of-way and Villageowned facilities for 5G expansion. By researching cellular service, including tower alternatives, The Village can ensure that we comply with the Telecommunication Act while protecting residents from unsightly installations and potential health risks. Planning also can help preserve property values and, at the same time, create revenue sources for the Village.

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