5G Wireless

Wireless communication providers are beginning to roll out new technology called small wireless facilities, commonly referred to as “small cells” or “5G.” You've probably already heard commercials from carriers referencing 5G.

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology for digital cellular networks. AT&T alone reports that data usage on their network increased more then 150,000% from 2007 to 2015, and that statistic is already 5 years old. According to a recent Seattle survey, 47% of people use their cellular plan as their source of home internet.

The technology has changed too. 5G uses many microcells, or small cells, to provide coverage rather than the old macros site of "cell towers." These small cells are indeed much smaller but also go in more places than the old network.

5G's Rules

In response to this technology, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has enacted new rules that affect the way local governments like Sumner can regulate small cells. The new rules do not allow Sumner, or any local government, to prohibit 5G technology from coming into our City, but do provide some guidance on how Cities can adopt permitting procedures and design requirements consistent with the FCC rules to regulate the location and appearance of this new technology.

Sumner retained Daniel Kenny with Ogden Murphy Wallace as a legal consultant to assist the City in adopting regulations and design standards that will meet the City’s needs and comply with the federal law. He spoke to the Council at their February 3 Study Session and emphasized how limited the City's options are. Some other cities in the country have appealed the FCC rules. One of the appeals currently sits with the 9th Circuit Court, but early indications seem to show it will not be resolved in the cities' favor.

What does this mean for Sumner and for you?

We will follow the process as outlined by the FCC rules, including holding public hearings to get input regarding the proposed regulation of 5G technology. But, we want to be very transparent with you that unlike most City public hearings, where feedback can change the course of the decision-makers, these hearings will have little impact on what the City can or cannot do regarding 5G because the FCC rules are essentially a mandate. If you have questions or concerns, we recommend the following:

1) Educate yourself. Like any topic, there is a lot of information available and a lot of assumptions also available, especially online. Go to the source for information: click here for the FCC's page on 5G technology and their governance of it.

We have also put Mr. Kenny's Powerpoint presentation to the Council as a PDF in the Documents Library.

2) Contact the FCC directly. You can always contact our staff, and we will hold public hearing(s). However, with so little discretion left to the City, we want to respect your time and effort. Click here to link for information on how to contact the FCC directly.

3) Track this topic's progress through Sumner. The timeline is listed on this page and will be updated as necessary. You can so review upcoming Council agendas online before meetings.

Wireless communication providers are beginning to roll out new technology called small wireless facilities, commonly referred to as “small cells” or “5G.” You've probably already heard commercials from carriers referencing 5G.

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology for digital cellular networks. AT&T alone reports that data usage on their network increased more then 150,000% from 2007 to 2015, and that statistic is already 5 years old. According to a recent Seattle survey, 47% of people use their cellular plan as their source of home internet.

The technology has changed too. 5G uses many microcells, or small cells, to provide coverage rather than the old macros site of "cell towers." These small cells are indeed much smaller but also go in more places than the old network.

5G's Rules

In response to this technology, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has enacted new rules that affect the way local governments like Sumner can regulate small cells. The new rules do not allow Sumner, or any local government, to prohibit 5G technology from coming into our City, but do provide some guidance on how Cities can adopt permitting procedures and design requirements consistent with the FCC rules to regulate the location and appearance of this new technology.

Sumner retained Daniel Kenny with Ogden Murphy Wallace as a legal consultant to assist the City in adopting regulations and design standards that will meet the City’s needs and comply with the federal law. He spoke to the Council at their February 3 Study Session and emphasized how limited the City's options are. Some other cities in the country have appealed the FCC rules. One of the appeals currently sits with the 9th Circuit Court, but early indications seem to show it will not be resolved in the cities' favor.

What does this mean for Sumner and for you?

We will follow the process as outlined by the FCC rules, including holding public hearings to get input regarding the proposed regulation of 5G technology. But, we want to be very transparent with you that unlike most City public hearings, where feedback can change the course of the decision-makers, these hearings will have little impact on what the City can or cannot do regarding 5G because the FCC rules are essentially a mandate. If you have questions or concerns, we recommend the following:

1) Educate yourself. Like any topic, there is a lot of information available and a lot of assumptions also available, especially online. Go to the source for information: click here for the FCC's page on 5G technology and their governance of it.

We have also put Mr. Kenny's Powerpoint presentation to the Council as a PDF in the Documents Library.

2) Contact the FCC directly. You can always contact our staff, and we will hold public hearing(s). However, with so little discretion left to the City, we want to respect your time and effort. Click here to link for information on how to contact the FCC directly.

3) Track this topic's progress through Sumner. The timeline is listed on this page and will be updated as necessary. You can so review upcoming Council agendas online before meetings.

Discussions: All (1) Open (1)
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    We want to be really clear that there's not much about 5G that we can regulate at the City level, so comments about 5G coming in general should be directed to the FCC. However, where a city can regulate is focused on the aesthetics of 5G small cell infrastructure. If you'd like to leave a comment about that, please add it here for the Council to consider.

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