Small Cell Wireless Technology

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Presentation from Attorney Mike Marrs on 5G Small Cell Technology

August 19, 2019 Board Meeting from Village of Western Springs on Vimeo.

What is 5G?

5G is an advanced wireless technology that has begun wide deployment in 2019. 5G networks are digital cellular networks, in which the service area covered by providers is divided into small geographical areas called cells. Analog signals representing sounds and images are digitized in the telephone, converted by an analog to digital converter and transmitted as a stream of bits. All the 5G wireless devices in a cell communicate by radio waves with a local antenna array and low power automated transceiver (transmitter and receiver) in the cell, over frequency channels assigned by the transceiver from a pool of frequencies that are reused in other cells. The local antennas are connected with the telephone network and the Internet by a high bandwidth optical fiber or wireless backhaul connection. As in other cell networks, a mobile device crossing from one cell to another is automatically "handed off" seamlessly to the new cell.

Verizon and a few others are using millimeter waves. Millimeter waves have shorter range than microwaves, therefore the cells are limited to smaller size. Millimeter waves also have more trouble passing through building walls. Millimeter wave antennas are smaller than the large antennas used in previous cellular networks. They are only a few inches (several centimeters) long. Another technique used for increasing the data rate is massive MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output). Each cell will have multiple antennas communicating with the wireless device, received by multiple antennas in the device, thus multiple bitstreams of data will be transmitted simultaneously, in parallel. In a technique called, beamforming, the base station computer will continuously calculate the best route for radio waves to reach each wireless device, and will organize multiple antennas to work together as phased arrays to create beams of millimeter waves to reach the device.

Over 20 networks are deployed using mid-band spectrum, from 2.4 to 4.2 GHz. Mid-band networks have better reach, bringing the cost close to the cost of 4G. T-Mobile USA and AT&T are announcing low-band 5G in December 2019. The performance, reach, and cost will be similar to 4G in the same band when the 5G systems are fully developed and can access more carrier frequencies.

The new 5G wireless devices also have 4G LTE capability, as the new networks use 4G for initially establishing the connection with the cell, as well as in locations where 5G access is not available. 5G can support up to a million devices per square kilometer, while 4G supports only up to 100,000 devices per square kilometer.


Recent Village Activity:

February 2020: The Village’s PowerPoint presentation from the recent Town Hall meeting can be viewed here.

The Village Board passes resolutions 20-2528 (calling for an amendment to the Small Cell Deployment Act to return control of local right-of-ways to municipalities, or, in the alternative, to repeal the Act), and 20-2529 (a resolution supporting federal bills HR 530 and S 2012 to restore local control in 5G/broadband deployment).

January 2020: President Gallagher delivers a statement at the January 27, 2020 Board of Trustees meeting. Read it here.

President Gallagher sent letters to the Cook County Department of Public Health, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and the Illinois Department of Public Health, asking that they share information regarding the impacts of radiofrequency emissions on public health. Read them here.

The Village issued a statement to provide more information on small cell wireless technology. Read it here.

December 2019: The Village received a permit application from Crown Castle Fiber, LLC., which was subsequently withdrawn.

November 2019: President Gallagher discusses many issues being considered by the board, including 5G small cell technology. Read more here.

October 2019: President Gallagher asked House and Senate sponsors of the Small Cell Wireless Act to amend the Bill to provide more municipal control.  Read her letters here.

President Gallagher sent letters to Senators Durbin and Duckworth, and Representatives Lipinski and Quigley, asking them to amend the Federal Communications Act to preserve local authority over deployment of 5G. Read the letters here.

August 2019: Attorney Michael Marrs gave a presentation on Small Cell Wireless at the Board of Trustees meeting. View it here (beginning at 35:00).

Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act:

The Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act (the “Act”), 50 ILCS 840/1 et seq., which was signed into law on April 12, 2018, as Public Act 100-0585, provides the regulations and process for permitting and deploying small wireless facilities within rights-of-way and on private property throughout Illinois (excluding Chicago). Small wireless facilities, also known as a “small cell,” are most often attached to utility or other poles. This Act imposes certain additional requirements on municipalities, including The Village of Western Springs.

Residents are urged to share their concerns with state and federal representatives, the House and Senate sponsors of the Act, as well as the telecommunications companies.

Information about the legislative sponsors of the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act – which is designated as Public Act 100-0585 and can be found under the 100th General Assembly, and SB 1451 –  are below:

Senate Sponsors
Sen. Terry Link - Bill Cunningham - Donne E. Trotter - John J. Cullerton, Jil Tracy and Michael E. Hastings

House Sponsors

Rep. Kelly M. Burke - Peter Breen - Mike Fortner - Fred Crespo - Robert Martwick and William Davis

Contact information for state and federal representatives can be found here.

Federal Communications Act of 1934:

There is a provision of federal law (the “Communications Act of 1934) that limits authority over radio frequency emissions.

47 U.S.C. 332(c)(7)(B)(iv):

(iv) No State or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Commission’s regulations concerning such emissions.