Small Cell Infrastructure

To regulate the applications for small cell installations from telecommunication companies, we have established a comprehensive design review and approval process.

Applicants can only propose installation of equipment on existing poles and must work in conjunction with macrocells (cell towers) already in place to provide wireless coverage. Small cell antennas are not stand-alone cell towers.

Current Project Updates

At upcoming meetings, Public Works staff will bring proposed changes to San Mateo Municipal Code and Design Standards to the Sustainability and Infrastructure Commission to receive public feedback and recommendations. To stay informed of commission agendas, visit:

Please note, Verizon will be presenting five 5G applications for review and approval in accordance with SMMC 17.10.070(c) at the March 10, 2021 meeting.  The 5G applications do not comply with the existing standards and require an exception to be granted by the commission as long as the applicant meets the required findings. 

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Project Status

We are currently accepting new telecom permits. We review telecom permits using the Federal Communications Commission’s guidelines and our own codified ordinance

As of January 2020, there are three companies with Master License Agreements to install small cell facilities on City-owned streetlights. Please reference the small cell map on this page for additional information on applications currently under review.

We adopted the ordinance (SMMC 17.10) in 2018 that established a process for wireless telecommunication sites in the public right-of-way. The ordinance and the corresponding standards were adopted shortly before the Federal Communications Commission adopted its 2018 order addressing small cell approval procedures. In September 2020, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed most of the FCC’s requirements, including that small cells be approved under reasonable standards within a 60/90-day shot clock period. 

Given the new legislation, it is recommended that we amend SMMC 17.10 and the corresponding standards to provide a streamlined process and objective standards. 

What Does a Small Cell Installation Look Like?

The photos below show a small cell installed at the top of the light and utility poles.

  1. Related Documents
  2. Public Meetings
  3. Contact Information

Adopted Ordinance and Design & Engineering Standards

Documents for Telecommunications Applicants

Adopted Fee Schedule

Radio Frequency (RF) Hazard Questions