• Council Roundup: City prepares for 5G infrastructure

    Published January 9 2019

    During its first study session of 2019, the City Council considered updates to city code and processes to deploy small cell in Bellevue rights of way. The draft code and policy discussions were in response to new Federal Communication Commission (FCC) requirements.

    Small cells are communication nodes on utility or street light polls that work in groups to provide consistent, high-quality voice and data cell service. Small technology, generally consisting of small equipment and installation heights, supplements the larger, higher-impact cell towers used by carriers to provide coverage.

    Small cell technology is associated with both fourth-generation (4G) and future fifth-generation (5G) service. Each generation represents better service in terms of capacity and data speed.

    In September, the FCC issued an order providing detailed requirements for small cell facilities in cities, significantly limiting local control. At the time of the order, Bellevue was already in conversations with wireless providers regarding deployment of the technology in the area.

    Throughout the process, the city sought to balance the need for universal, affordable access to reliable wireless service with concerns about aesthetics and the number of facilities – especially in neighborhoods.

    The installation of small cells also advances Bellevue’s commitment to connectivity and becoming a “smart city.”

    The council directed staff to return on Jan. 22 for possible adoption of amendments. Additional background on the budget process can be found in the agenda packet materials.

    Special Events Committee appointment

    Later, the council approved the appointment of Laurie Scott to the Special Events Committee. The committee, made up of a various stakeholders, determines conditions and fees for large gatherings in the city. Scott will represent the downtown community.