What is a small cell facility?

A small cell is a single small antenna placed on existing utility poles or street lights along with small pole-mounted radios and other accessory equipment. Small cells on utility poles will typically consist of one 4-foot tall by 14-inch diameter antenna mounted on top of the pole and a number of small boxes consisting of radios, electric meter, a disconnect switch and a fiber box.  Small cells on street light will typically consist of an antenna, similar to that of utility poles, mounted on top of the pole.  Two small radio boxes may be placed on the pole further down, or within the base of the pole.  Other equipment may also be placed within the base of the pole.  Small cell facilities will help wireless service providers in meeting the continuously increasing demand for wireless services.  The increased use of smart phones, tablets, health monitors and other wireless devices in every-day life relies on a robust wireless network.  A small cell network will add capacity and improve in-building coverage in San Mateo neighborhoods. Also, small cell networks will improve voice quality, reliability and data speeds for San Mateo residents, businesses, first responders and visitors using the wireless networks.

A typical wireless facility on a pole consists of one or more antennas and one or more equipment boxes.  To meet CPUC requirements, the antennas will be mounted either at the top of the pole. The equipment boxes will be attached to the pole, or in the case of new steel streetlight installations, potentially in the base of the pole itself.  While every system varies, the equipment boxes typically include an electric meter, a disconnect switch, and computers to control the antennas. Some wireless facilities may also feature an equipment box, on the same pole or in a box near the pole, that contains batteries used to provide temporary emergency power to the facility in case of a power outage.

Show All Answers

1. What is a small cell facility?
2. What is Public Right of Way?
3. What is the range of these systems?
4. Can the City prohibit the installation of wireless telecommunication facilities?
5. Does the City prefer wireless facilities on wood poles?
6. What is 5G? How does it relate to current installations of wireless telecommunications facilities? What are requirements for 5G?
7. Which agency establishes limits for radio frequency (RF)?
8. How can I get more information about my health concerns?
9. Can Local and State governmental bodies establish limits for RF exposure?
10. Is a permit required from the City for these installations?
11. Does the City’s permit review address the design of the facility?
12. Are these facilities subject to the California Environmental Quality Act or additional environmental review?
13. UPDATED: Who legally owns the poles or wires? Who can legally attach equipment?
14. UPDATED: Once the City issues a wireless permit can other carriers install additional facilities on the same pole?
15. How long would construction take for a small cell facility?
16. Do other cities have these small cell systems?
17. Are Cities allowed to impose a moratorium?
18. NEW: How is it that other cities have successfully prohibited cell towers near residences? example: Palo Alto, Burlingame, Hillsborough near here but there are others.
19. UPDATED: Can I protest DPW’s tentative approval of a wireless permit?
20. NEW: How can a resident appeal? What basis of appeals that succeed?
21. NEW: Does the City of San Mateo have a conflict of interest in protecting the public because the city receives money from all the cell companies?
22. NEW: Who decides what is attractive?
23. NEW: Are you allowed to put small cells on schools? Near schools? On islands?
24. NEW: My house in the park is a cell phone "dead spot" Will the towers help with that?
25. NEW: There could be a proliferation of small cells as a result of 5G implementation. We could see boxes on poles less than 500 feet apart, can the city limit only one vendor per pole?
26. NEW: What control do we have on power poles in back of our properties? What protections do residents have?
27. NEW: What recourse do we have if a telecom wants to install a device by our house?
28. NEW: Where do we have cell towers now? Where are new ones going?
29. NEW: 401 Occidental was denied, the new location is just across the street - Why?
30. NEW: How many new towers will be installed in San Mateo Park and where will they be?
31. NEW: Who specifically at the city is responsible for keeping citizens of San Mateo Park and City of San Mateo informed about cell towers?