Cellular technology is stirring up new challenges for planners in their local communities. As we focus on telecommunications, we'll take a look at a piece of technology that's transforming the way planners engage with wireless: small cell towers.
Becoming a point of conversation and action in cities across the nation, Indianapolis and surrounding areas are among those where small cell towers are changing the way communities think about technology in their city.
Legislative leaders in APA's Indiana Chapter shared some of their insights on progress taking place in (sometimes literally) their own backyard.
Since 2017, Indiana passed two pieces of legislation pertinent to small cell. Local control and small cell technology are inextricably linked, and Indiana's SB 213 is a key example. Passed one year ago, the legislation allows telecommunication companies to install this technology in rights of way without a permit or fees.
Supporters of the legislation viewed the decision as critical to moving the process forward in a timely manner and argue that a provision allowing cities to designate areas as off-limits gives communities a chance to act as they see fit. Opponents, however, noted the short time frame in which they had to complete designations and remained concerned over limiting local control.
Indiana cities and planners began to work with the new legislation and in 2018 the governor signed a second bill into law that is focused on the expansion of small cell wireless infrastructure in response to SB 213.
Moving forward, Indianapolis is expected to be one of the leading cities in 5G technology. At the local level, planners, legislators and community members alike recognize the importance of cellular technology in advancing communities and making a path forward for quick and accessible telecommunications across the state.
Top image: A small-cell cellular site, with antennas attached to a lamp post near U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Photo by Tony Webster (CC BY-SA 2.0).
About the Author
Catherine Hinshaw is state government affairs associate at APA.