April 26, 2019

Preparing for 5G Small Cell Deployment

As we’ve covered in depth in previous articles, the next major step in wireless networking is the much anticipated 5G network. Promising faster speeds, higher bandwidth,and lower latency, 5G technology is closer to being a reality and opening the door to revolutionary innovations. But, the transition to this next era of wireless service will require a major investment in network infrastructure. To prepare, organizations will be relying on widespread, strategic 5G small cell deployment.

However, that may not be as easy as it sounds. Despite the exciting possibilities that 5G will enable, enterprises must overcome a few challenges in order to ensure a successful small cell infrastructure deployment.

Challenges of 5G Small Cell Deployment


As of September 2018, the FCC removed one of the biggest hurdles to 5G deployment —  timely permitting and approvals. A new ruling officially prevents townships, cities and municipalities from delaying 5G permitting approvals. According to the declaratory ruling, Accelerating Wireless and Wireline Broadband Deployment Order, cities are required to respond to applications within 60 to 90 days. It also put a cap on costs and fees and streamlined applications to access public rights of way. Local governments can still reject applications for just cause. They also have a say in what the 5G equipment should look like.

Currently, twenty-two state legislatures—Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia—have enacted legislation that streamlines regulations to facilitate 5G small cell deployment.

Despite support from the FCC, local governments have voiced concerns regarding how small cell equipment is deployed. For example, some feel that unsightly installations could affect design districts or present damage to historical buildings. Consumers want the coverage, but they don’t want to see the equipment.

Minimizing Impact

Unlike 3G and 4G networks that use signals on the low-and mid-band spectrum (approximately 600MHz to 6GHz), 5G networks utilize high frequency millimeter waves that only travel short distances (approximately 24 to 71GHz).

Beyond just providing coverage within specific areas such as office buildings or stadiums, small cell solutions are a key component for outdoor environments. These higher frequencies, above 28GHz, are very vulnerable to line-of-sight and obstruction issues. To provide reliable coverage to consumers, 5G networks will need to use multiple mounted small cells. This may include small cell installations on buildings, street lights, utility poles, etc. to achieve a successful cell signal.

Many approval boards are highly resistant to obvious, unsightly small cell installations. For 5G small cell deployment to be approved, organizations must get creative with installation locations and take the necessary steps to reduce visual disruptions. For example, when seeking jurisdictional approval, deployers must present strategic renditions to the board. These schematics must place a significant emphasis on architectural aesthetics to achieve the green light for small cell installation.

Responsive Engineering Solutions for 5G Small Cell Deployment

It’s an exciting time. As a key enabler of outdoor network densification, 5G is set to transform a number of industries, but planning is key.

Does your organization have a small cell strategy in place for deployment?

Lay the groundwork now for long-term success by consulting with a responsive telecom firm who can provide the right strategy for a successful 5G small cell deployment. KMB Design Group provides innovative 5G small cell deployment solutions for all types of small cell installations. From consulting to construction management, our team has decades of experience in responsive telecom engineering and can help make your 5G deployment strategy a success. .

Contact us to learn more about KMB’s small cell telecom engineering consulting services.

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