SOUTH HAVEN — As mobile device users gear up for 5G service, municipalities are gearing up for an increase in antennas that transmit the signals.
South Haven is trying to be proactive about the new antennas, referred to as small cell wireless facilities.
Council members this week passed an ordinance to ensure the city complies with a new state statute, that among other things, gives wireless service providers access to public rights-of-way and the ability to attach transmitting devices to poles and structures to enhance their networks and provide next-generation services.
Public Act 365, which took effect in March, also encourages the deployment of advanced wireless services by streamlining the process for permitting, construction, modification, maintenance and operation of wireless facilities in public rights-of-way.
“Cellular providers are beginning to make a push for 5G coverage statewide, and small cell facilities are part of that effort,” City Manager Brian Dissette said.
Unlike cell towers that people often associate with wireless devices, small cell facilities usually are shaped like smaller antennas, 3- to 4-feet tall, that are installed on existing infrastructure, such as a utility pole or other types of free-standing poles.
Similar to a cell tower, small cell nodes (as they are sometimes referred to) communicate wirelessly over radio waves and then send the signals to the internet or phone system, according to Crown Castle, America’s largest provider of shared communications infrastructure. Because small cells are connected to fiber they can handle massive amounts of data at fast speeds.
Right now the city has only one small cell wireless facility. It’s in the triangular green space at the intersection of Elkenburg and Ravinia streets by South Haven High School.
But with the push for 5G coverage in Michigan, South Haven city officials expect more to be installed by wireless providers.
South Haven’s new ordinance will place several stipulations on the installation of small cell nodes.
• Approval of an application to erect small cell facilities;
• Utility poles will not exceed 40 feet above ground level;
• Small cell wireless facilities cannot extend more than 5 feet above a utility pole;
• In the downtown development district or any residential zoning district, small cell wireless antennas will be contained within a shroud or canister type enclosure;
• The colors of antenna enclosures and equipment cabinets will match the color of the utility pole or support structure on which they are located;
• New providers of small cell facilities will pay an annual fee of $125 per year for each one installed in the city right-of-way. Existing providers will pay $20 annually.