Riding the 5G Wave: Getting Permits for 5G Towers & Tech

The world is getting smarter, and so is our technology. Where phones and computers were the primary users of cell demand just a few years ago, now cars, industrial machines, and other technology are tapping into this communication resource. And it’s proving too much for the 4G towers currently in existence.

Mobile fifth generation – or 5G – wireless systems offer faster speeds, greater capacity, and better reliability. They also offer an opportunity for contractors who are looking to build these towers.

5G will impact both economic and social structures, but it is not without cost. Wireless carriers will have to upgrade their technology infrastructures. Existing towers will be upgraded, but new towers will also be needed. Estimates range from the hundreds of thousands to millions in order to provide the coverage that the market demands.

The new cell antennas, which are about the size of a mini refrigerator, can be mounted on something as short as a utility pole. But because 5G technology uses a much higher radio frequency, the signals travel shorter distances than traditional cellphone technology and are easily blocked by buildings and trees, meaning many more antennas – and more towers – are needed to provide coverage.

While some big cities are working to include “mini-towers” within streetlights, lamp posts, and other existing municipal property, landowners will still need to be negotiated with on a case-by-case basis. These towers in suburban, ex-urban, and rural areas will bring not just technology but educational and job opportunities to these communities.

State & Local 5G Permits & Regulations

Small cell wireless facility infrastructure requires streamlined federal, state and local permitting, rights of way, application timelines and other siting and application fees. It also requires application review timelines and appeals processes to make it economically feasible for wireless companies to deploy the technology across communities.

Already, 21 state legislatures - Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, FloridaHawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia – have enacted small cell legislation to regulate 5G small cell towers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twenty-three more states have bills in one form or another to either create or increase regulations of their own.

These laws differ from state to state but in general deal with issues such as applications to access public rights-of-way and caps on costs and fees. For example, in Florida, the state can overrule local governments to determine where 5G towers are installed, even on public property that abuts directly against private property. Meanwhile, a proposed bill in Iowa would give municipalities the final say in where nodes are installed.

Cities and citizen groups are fighting where and how these new towers will be built, so it is imperative that you strictly follow zoning statutes to the letter. Any violation could wind up in a months-long court battle, as has been the case in California.

Express Permits Can Help

With permit experience throughout the United States and portions of Canada, Express Permits has the knowledge to understand and navigate local laws that can speed up the submittal process and permit requirements. Let us help you tap into this new business opportunity!

5G Permit Legislation State by State

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