The telecommunications industry is in the process of deploying infrastructure that will bring 5th Generation (5G) technology to the area via wireless telecommunication antennae and equipment (small cell). Small Cell is a term used to describe the antennae and equipment telecom providers plan to install in public space in order to meet the growing demand for cell phone, tablet, and other connected devices people use as part of their everyday lives. To address the growing demand for wireless technology across the United States, cellular providers propose to increase the capacity of their networks by deploying Small Cell, a new lower-powered antenna technology, to reduce data traffic load on roof mounted equipment and larger cell towers. This new technology requires infrastructure to be installed in close proximity to the users on the ground; this infrastructure will affect the aesthetics of public spaces.
The District has adopted an approach that has been implemented in several jurisdictions across the country that fit within the broad parameters established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This approach includes requiring every company enter into a Master License Agreement and obtain permits to deploy infrastructure that meets guidelines adopted by each community to reflect that community's priorities for its public space.
The District of Columbia has a history spanning more than two centuries establishing a unique streetscape that sets it apart from any other city in the world. A crucial component of that streetscape is its extensive network of public space. The public space enhances the quality of life for our residents and visitors and ensures that the city has the foundation to become a more walkable and sustainable city. The District’s public space is a valuable and intentional asset that requires careful stewardship to maintain its integrity and safeguard it as a legacy to future generations. This heritage is safeguarded through the work of many agencies, including the District of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Office and Public Space Committee (among others), and the Federally constituted Commission of Fine Arts and National Capital Planning Commission. Any new use made of that public space must be cognizant of and adapted to the special characteristics of the District of Columbia.
Comments on these guidelines should be provided via email to [email protected]. In the subject line please include the title: Small Cell Guideline Comments. Comments may also be mailed to the Public Space Committee, c/o DDOT's Public Space Permit Office, 1100 4th St SW, Room 360, Washington DC, 20024. On the outside of the envelope please note that it includes comments on the Small Cell Guidelines. These comments will be collected and presented to the Public Space Committee (PSC) at a special meeting it is convening to consider these guidelines. The PSC special meeting, scheduled for Monday, October 15, 2018, was held in Room 200 of 1100 4th Street SW. The meeting was scheduled to provide time for as many participants as possible to provide comment to the PSC. The meeting notice was published in the DC Register on September 7.
The deadline to provide written comments in advance of the PSC meeting was 5 PM on Friday, October 5. PSC meetings are open to the public and the PSC welcomes testimony from all parties. If you are interested in commenting at the PSC meeting, please contact the PSC staff at [email protected].
On Monday, October 15, 2018, at 1:00 pm, the Public Space Committee hosted a special roundtable to consider guidelines for the deployment of Small Cell in the public space. At the meeting, comments and testimony from all stakeholders were given. If interested in commenting, please contact the PSC staff at [email protected]. The meeting was held at 1100 4th Street SW in Room 200.