City Solicits Proposals for Small Cell Facilities Franchise
October 19, 2020 - The City of Alexandria is soliciting Franchise Proposals for a Telecommunications Facility Franchise Agreement for the design, construction, installation, upgrade, repair, removal and operation of Specified Small Cell Facilities and Related Infrastructure in the public rights-of-ways in the City of Alexandria, Virginia.
- Proposed franchise ordinance and all related documents can be accessed on the City's Dockets & Webcasts page and below:
What are Small Cells?
To address the growing demand for wireless services across the United States, telecommunication providers plan to increase the capacity of their networks by deploying small cell antennas, primarily within the public right-of-way, to reduce the data traffic load on roof-mounted equipment and larger cell towers. Small cell facilities are low-powered antennas that provide wireless service coverage to a limited geographic area (often with ranges of a few hundred feet), and are used to supplement and expand the coverage provided by the traditional, larger-scale network.
The immediate desire of the wireless carriers is to mount these facilities on existing structures within the public right-of-way; such structures may include utility poles, streetlight poles, and traffic signal poles.
Watch this Small Cells Fundamentals video to learn more about small cells.
The City of Alexandria, like other communities in Virginia and across the country, requires certain permits before a wireless company or any other person can install equipment in or on the City’s streets and sidewalks. These permits are designed to address traffic safety, the proper installation of electric equipment, and the appearance of the City. In 2017 and 2018, the Virginia General Assembly enacted legislation intended to streamline the process for issuing zoning permits. In 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted similar rules addressing a broader range of permits; the FCC’s rules went into effect in January 2019.
In the Fall of 2017, City Council approved an amendment to the zoning ordinance to ensure compliance with the first set of statutes adopted by the General Assembly. The Department of Planning & Zoning has developed an application form and a process for reviewing requests to install small cell facilities, to conform to the new state and federal requirements. The City is now in the process of considering further amendments to the zoning ordinance and other internal procedures to fully reflect the 2018 changes in state and federal law. Wireless carriers must also obtain permission from Dominion Energy to deploy infrastructure on utility poles and other facilities owned by Dominion, as well as complying with Dominion’s safety and operational guidelines.
The City remains committed to protecting the needs and interests of Alexandria residents in obtaining access to advanced wireless service, while also preserving the visual character of the City and the safety of the public. The City has prepared Interim Wireless Facility Aesthetic Guidelines that provide general guidance for small cell facilities while we continue to work with wireless telecommunication providers and the community on aesthetic designs for streetlight poles.
Policies & Documents
- Pole Replacement Height Policy for Utility Poles in Public Rights-of-Way for the Purpose of Small Cell Facilities Installation - July 17, 2020
- Board of Architectural Review (BAR) Policy for Administrative Approval of Small Cells on Wood Utility Poles - Adopted June 5, 2019, Amended June 19, 2019
- Interim Wireless Facility Aesthetic Guidelines - April 11, 2019
Meetings & Materials
Public Information Meeting
Thursday, April 25, 2019, 6:00 - 7:30PM
City Hall, Sister Cities Conference Room 1101
- Meeting Video
- Staff Presentation
- Wireless Carrier Presentations:
Board of Architectural Review
- Design Guidelines Committee
Thursday, May 2, 2019, 8:00 - 9:00AM
City Hall, Room 2100, P&Z Library Conference Room
- BAR Public Hearing:Video | Presentation
Wednesday, May 15, 2019, 7:00PM
City Hall, Council Chambers
Commission on Information Technology | Presentation
Tuesday, June 18, 2019, 7:00PM
City Hall, Sister Cities Conference Room 1101
- Old Town Civic Association - June 11, 2019: Presentation
- Federation of Civic Associations - March 27, 2019: Presentation
- City Council Legislative Meeting - February 26, 2019: Video | Presentation
- City Council Public Hearing - October 14, 2017: Video | Presentation
- Planning Commission Public Hearing - October 3, 2017: Video | Staff Report
- Virginia State Code Section 2316
- Virginia General Assembly Bills:
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Declaratory Ruling
Contact Richard Lawrence, Department of Planning and Zoning, 703.746.3849.