There is no longer a question about where we need to deploy small cells. The optimal location is in the right-of-way where they are close to customers and can best support wireless network densification objectives. Looking long term, locating small cells in the right-of-way is also the optimal location for enabling IoT applications like Smart Cars and the myriad of Smart City initiatives that need to happen sooner rather than later.
Kansas Bill #2131 is ushering in new guidelines that should accelerate the growth of wireless sites. These guidelines went into effect October 1, 2016 and have the potential to make it easier for wireless carriers to apply for and gain approval for wireless sites located in the right-of-way. The guidelines more clearly define small cells, small cell networks, wireless facilities and several other wireless network terms. The application process is clearly laid out and is very specific as to the information required in an application and the time frames for approval. This is good news for wireless carriers and their customers.
On the other hand, there are implications. For starters, most municipalities have significant budget shortfalls and are understaffed. Expediting the approval process could make it more difficult to review and process wireless site applications on a timely basis.
We should be able to identify solutions to help municipalities and make this a win-win for both. BHC RHODES is planning to be proactive in developing solutions to help municipalities and utilities in four areas:
- GIS Based Mapping Standard – Work with municipalities/utilities to inform them about the advantages of transitioning to a GIS based platform for mapping. If all wireless applications were submitted using this mapping platform, it would simplify the process and provide right-of-way officials with a more holistic view of proposed locations, their configuration and photos for residential and business notification.
- Develop a Standard for Street Lights and Traffic Lights – Help municipalities identify and select a standard for purpose built poles designed to accommodate multiple wireless carriers.
- Outsourced Processing of Wireless Applications – Work with municipalities/utilities to develop and implement a solution to outsource the processing of wireless applications to a 3rd party company. This would provide resources that specialize in this area and free-up existing staff to focus on daily operations.
- Coordinate and Organize Efforts – Work to coordinate and organize the efforts and needs of wireless carriers, municipalities for right-of-way management and for data management, back haul providers, and third party smart city integrators and developers.
This is just a starting point for thought leadership regarding these new wireless guidelines. We will cover another important aspect of these new guidelines in another blog. In the meantime, we welcome your thoughts and insights.