SC City Uses Model Ordinance to Regulate Small Cell Towers

The Orangeburg, S.C., City Council approved an ordinance on Dec 18th developed by the Municipal Association, a collaboration of small governments and the utility industry to make 5G more accessible.

by Bradley Harris, The Times and Democrat / December 27, 2018
e.Republic/David Kidd

(TNS) — The City of Orangeburg, S.C., is a step closer to having better cellphone service, thanks to a vote by Orangeburg City Council.

The council on Dec. 18 approved an ordinance that will establish standards for the placement of micro cell towers throughout the city. The mini cell towers will enhance the cell service in the city and provide 5G service capabilities.

“A few months back, we presented a brief presentation on small cell technology. This is the newer technology that’s coming out with cellular phones. Currently we’re what they call 4G LTE service and the next phase of service is 5G,” Deputy Administrator John Singh said.

“With 5G, because the amount of data that’s going to (be) pushed and moved around, that in some cases requires for smaller cells at less distance from those larger towers to basically boost the ability to send data out among phones,” Singh said.

The ordinance approved by council is a model, Singh said.

“What we’ve done is we’ve taken the model ordinance of the Municipal Association that was a project that was done between local governments, the telecom industry and the utility industry,” he said.

“They came up with a lot of ordinances that would hopefully address issues of beginning to start that process of attaching antennas. There will be a small antenna or array that you’ll see possibly on the top of a utility pole. It can also be placed on a mast arm, where it usually is covered with a cylindrical cone to where it really blends in,” Singh said.

“It’s a case where those are areas that their engineers will look at ways to boost signals and increase that data flow,” Singh said.

Singh said that federal legislation is in place that allows the telecom industry to “come in and put small cell sites on right of way.”

“What this ordinance helps is kind of give some guidelines for cities to be able to regulate somewhat what happens within their municipality,” Singh said.

The ordinance will be an “evolving item,” according to Singh.

“We’ll be making adjustments with Mr. Walsh and with DPU to pull this together and be something that works for Orangeburg.” “But at the same time, this may be an evolving item where we may have some amendments or we look at possible changes down the road to the ordinance,” Singh said.

“We recommend from a staff standpoint that we look at going ahead and passing the model ordinance in a form that can be used to get this technology moving forward when telecom companies do come,” Singh said.

“It also puts us in a position to be able to provide some regulation.”

All council members voted to approve the ordinance, except for Councilman Bernard Haire, who abstained.

©2018 The Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, S.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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