Fort Smith residents could see better cell service in populous areas with the implementation of small cell technology.
Fort Smith Information Technology Services Director Russell Gibson wrote in a memo to City Administrator Carl Geffken he will co-present information about the Small Wireless Facilities Act 999, effective Sept. 1, and information on small cell technology.
The act is designed to assist in the “growing consumer demand for wireless data, increasing competitive options for communications services and promoting the ability of the state’s citizens to communicate with other citizens and with their state and municipalities, and promoting public safety.”
Brenda Andrews, interim director of Development Services, wrote in a memo that the new act allows state municipalities to utilize the technology.
Small cell technology is the installation of “small cells” to complement or stretch standard wireless coverage in high-usage areas, such as parks, downtown areas, office buildings, stadiums and arenas.
For example, wireless companies can install poles with equipment in rights of ways, such as streets, alleys and public utility easements for the use of small cells. The poles can be up to 50 feet high.
The city can’t deny the collocation on city-owned poles, especially if it owns a utility company, Andrews wrote. Fort Smith, however, does not have its own electric company, it would be limited to traffic signals and decorative poles on Garrison Avenue.
These cannot be installed in the historic districts unless the wireless companies comply with historic district requirements. They must also match the aesthetic requirements of other utilities and communications structures.
“In cooperation with the city attorney, staff is working toward an ordinance that would require permitting of small cell wireless facilities in accordance with Act 999 as well as some minor additional aesthetic standards required on specific corridors or areas,” Andrews wrote.
There is no limit to the number of applications a provider can submit. Andrews said the staff anticipates multiple applications for small cell facilities on Sept. 1. The department plans to have an ordinance in August that would allow Fort Smith to utilize the technology.
The board will meet at noon Tuesday at the Fort Smith Public Library.