Small Cell Wireless (5G) Technology

Following is some helpful information about 5G technology, which is getting some attention in Washington state and beyond.

An image stating "5G"What is 5G?

5G technology is the next major cellular service upgrade, which will ultimately result in much faster data transmission to wireless communication/data devices (e.g., cell phones, tablets, and computers).

What are Small Cell facilities?
Small cell facilities are different than the macro cell facilities that are currently deployed throughout the City on high poles/towers or buildings, mostly in commercial areas. Small cell facilities are typically between 25 and 35 feet in height, and typically have a range limited to 300 to 1000 feet. With a limited range, a lot more of the antenna locations are needed. To provide service in residential areas, the antennas will be deployed in those residential areas.

Why Small Cell facilities?
The goal of small cell facilities is to increase capacity and reliability for the 4G network in the short term and prepare for the future 5G network. 5G technology cannot be deployed on the macro cell facilities. Once 5G facilities are deployed and 5G devices are in use, data transmission speeds will be up to 20 times faster than possible with 4G technology.

What is the impact to people?
Mill Creek and all other cities in the nation are required to allow small cell facilities throughout their boundaries, even in residential areas. In most cases, the facilities will collocated on a street light. In these situations, the existing streetlight will need to be replaced. The City is preparing rules to minimize the aesthetic impacts that could result from the deployment of small cell facilities.

What does 5G mean for the City of Mill Creek?

5G will provide faster cellular service to our area. It may also mean a change in the appearance of some of the infrastructure within the City (street lights).

What are we doing to prepare for or address 5G?
Currently the City staff and legal counsel are working with the Planning Commission to prepare revisions to the City regulations pertaining to small cell deployment. This work is expected to take several months.

Have any carriers expressed interest in installing these devices?
No. The City has not yet received any requests to install small cell facilities. Obviously, this could change. The cities of Edmonds and Mount Lake Terrace are currently reviewing applications for small cell facilities.