New Guidelines For Small Cell Wireless Nodes Along Local Roadways Completed

The taller cell towers that dot the area are being supplemented with small antennas that serve high demand areas and provide higher connection speeds.

City and County Small Cell Guidelines for Rights-of-Way

Staff from the Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) recently completed Small Cell Guidelines for the City of Knoxville and Knox County right-of-ways. The guidelines strive to make small cell technologies fit into the surrounding area as much as possible. To develop the guidelines, MPC staff researched other cities’ practices and created a working group made up of representatives from the City, County, Knoxville Utilities Board, and Lenior City Utilities Board. The guidelines were shared with cell tower providers and adjusted accordingly.

What is Small Cell Technology?

Small cell technology refers to a small, short-range mobile base station that adds to cellular service from macro-cell towers. Cellular providers are looking to small cell towers in the public right-of-way as a key infrastructure piece as they plan for 5G services. Macro towers are common throughout the City and County and are in place to provide coverage, but small cell technologies is more about capacity than coverage. While there are no standards set for 5G, the cellular providers are in a race to deploy the coverage, so their standards become the adopted standards.

Why do we need Small Cell Technology?

With the high growth from the Internet of Things (IoT) and autonomous vehicles, faster mobile data services will be necessary. It’s predicted by Gartner Research that 1,000 times more bandwidth will be needed in the next 10 years. 

Where are small cell technologies in Knoxville and Knox County?

The first installations of small cell equipment in the right-of-way are located at 4951, 5568, and 9314 Kingston Pike. These instillations were part of a pilot program where the installer (Zayo) collaborated with KUB and the working group.

What are the Next Steps?

The City and County will be incorporating these guidelines and their respective engineering departments will review applications and issue permits. In addition, the design elements from the guidelines are being incorporated into the Zoning Ordinances for the City and County through a proposed draft Wireless Communication Facilities (WCF) Ordinance. This revision will address small cell and macro-towers. The draft is being reviewed by City and County staff and will soon be made public.