What is a Small Cell?

A “Small Wireless Facility” (SWF) or “Small Cell” is a type of wireless infrastructure. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines a small cell as any wireless facility that has an antenna no more than three cubic feet in volume, accessory equipment no more than 28 cubic feet in volume and are mounted on structures 50 feet or less in height (or 10% taller than adjacent structures, whichever is greater). They typically take the form of small antennas (3-4 feet tall) that are placed on existing infrastructure (such as utility poles) and are accompanied by equipment cabinets installed lower on the pole.

In order to meet increasing demand for mobile and data services, as well as future wireless technology, wireless service and infrastructure providers are supplementing traditional, larger cell phone towers with small cell facilities to densify their wireless networks. Small cells can also improve service today for areas lacking coverage.

Show All Answers

1. What is a Small Cell?
2. What is a Macro Cell (traditional cell towers)?
3. Can the City of South Lake Tahoe prevent small cell facilities from being placed in the public right-of-way?
4. Who governs the location of wireless facilities?
5. Can the City prohibit the installation of small cells due to RF emissions or other health concerns?
6. Can the City reject wireless communication facility applications and just say “no”?
7. How does the City currently permit new wireless communication facilities?
8. Will I be noticed of a public hearing(s) for a new wireless communication facility?
9. Is there a limit to the number of cell facilities South Lake Tahoe can permit?