The DC Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment will hold a public roundtable on the implementation of small cell technology in the District at 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 19 in Room 412 of the Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW).
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is currently formulating Small Cell Design Guidelines to govern the placement and design of the lower-lying mobile network units on District utility poles and other public spaces.
Small cells are low-power miniature antennas that supplement larger cell towers and will be necessary to implement the newer, faster 5G service when it begins to be offered in the United States sometime in 2019.
Small cell installation throughout the District is not up for debate. The District has already entered into Master License Agreements (MLA) allowing five communications companies, including AT&T, Verizon, Extenet, Mobilitie and Crown Castle, to install the units throughout the city. The MLAs allow the companies to install units on cobra-neck street light poles and wooden utility poles or to install new, stand-alone poles on streets and named alleys, but does not allow units to be installed on Washington Globe light poles.
Network providers say the small cells improve the quality of wireless service throughout the District with faster data coverage and capacity.
As many as 2,500 units could be installed by the five companies throughout the city. Crown Castle alone wants to install 850 low-powered antennas connected by fiber optic cables.
Critics have expressed concern about the effect of the units on the aesthetics of the historic districts and the tree canopy, arguing that the sheer number of potential units could be overwhelming.
The Committee invites the public to testify or to submit written testimony, which will be made a part of the official Record. Anyone wishing to testify should contact Ms. Aukima Benjamin, Staff Assistant to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, at (202) 724-8062 or via e-mail at [email protected]
Persons representing organizations will have five minutes to present their testimony. Individuals will have three minutes to present their testimony.
Witnesses should bring eight copies of their written testimony and should submit a copy of their testimony electronically to [email protected]