These images show boxes, known as "shrouds," that house pole-top mobile telecommunications equipment for 4G-enabled devices (left) and the proposed uniformed shroud for 5G- and 4G-enabled devices (right) on New York City streets. The last image shows 5G equipment, which is often bigger, in other cities.
The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) is seeking the public's feedback regarding the design proposal of mobile telecommunications equipment proposed to be placed on street poles across the City. This equipment will facilitate the citywide deployment of 5G.
The widespread use of mobile devices for phone calls, texting, mobile web browsing, and applications requires a dense network of physical infrastructure to support these uses for millions of New Yorkers.
The main cellular technology of today is 4G LTE, but 5G – fifth generation mobile technology – is the future of wireless. 5G is advertised as delivering enhanced mobile broadband capabilities that are up to 10 times faster than speeds currently widely available, with immediate responsiveness.
The ability of wireless carriers to provide faster service to New Yorkers requires the deployment of new telecommunications infrastructure on street poles across all five boroughs. DoITT has directed the wireless industry to collaborate and design a uniform and minimally obtrusive small cell "concealment" solution to be mounted on street poles. This solution is capable of accommodating the major carriers' 4G and 5G deployment needs.
On August 10, 2020, a public meeting before the New York City Public Design Commission will be held to review the proposed 5G equipment design.
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What is 5G
Up until 2020, all of the mobile telecommunications infrastructure deployed in New York City has been to support 4G (fourth generation) service. With the recent increase of mobile devices, and in wireless data usage, existing 4G telecommunications infrastructure is projected to be unable to meet future growing demand. The fifth-generation wireless technology, or 5G, is capable of a higher capacity of service; delivering faster data transfer speeds while at the same time servicing more devices with high quality voice service. The growth from 4G to 5G will require the installation of larger pole-mounted equipment and will support making faster, higher quality service equitably available in every neighborhood in the city.
DoITT's commitment to equity and transparency
The benefits of 5G will not be limited by zip code. The proposed equipment may be installed on street poles in every neighborhood of the City. Franchisees identify poles that meet their individual wireless coverage and capacity needs and select them during periodic pole reservation periods initiated by DoITT.
DoITT is committed to ensuring that 5G will be equitably deployed throughout the City by allocating a set number of poles to be reserved in each of three geographic zones, which cover the entire City. This method of pole allocation is designed to ensure that more poles are made available in areas of the city outside of the Manhattan core.
DoITT will continue to periodically update a dataset of poles approved for the potential installation of small cells on the City's Open Data portal. You can search by borough, street name and intersection as well community district, council district or zipcode.
Health and safety
Pursuant to their franchise agreements, Mobile Telecommunications franchisees are required to comply with all Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") guidelines related to radio frequency ("RF") emissions, and DoITT is committed to holding each franchisee to this standard.
The federal government regulates radio emissions as they relate to health or environmental concerns and constrains local governments from doing more. For more FCC information on wireless devices and health concerns, please visit: https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/wireless-devices-and-health-concerns.
Mobile telecommunications franchises
DoITT's Mobile Telecommunications franchise allows wireless companies to install and maintain mobile telecommunications equipment ("small cells") on certain street poles. Since 2004, Mobile Telecommunications franchisees have installed small cells on over 6,000 city-owned and privately-owned poles, improving wireless services throughout the City. Previous deployments have focused primarily on 4G densification.
Mobile telecommunication infrastructure is heavily regulated by the Federal Government. For example, Federal rules and statutes exclusively govern radio frequency transmission, including the impact to human health.
Pole review process
As franchise administrator, DoITT's role is to oversee all franchisee activity to ensure compliance with franchise agreement rules and to coordinate reviews among multiple city agencies.
DoITT has established a reservation system for mobile telecommunications companies who wish to deploy their infrastructure on City poles. Companies are regularly provided with an opportunity to request a set number of poles. More poles are generally made available outside of the Manhattan business core in order to ensure that the most up-to-date mobile phone service is equitably available in neighborhoods in all five boroughs. Every city-owned light pole reserved by a franchisee is reviewed by the Department of Transportation to ensure that it meets certain structural and electrical requirements.
Poles located in or next to historic districts and/or city parks undergo additional review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission ("LPC") and Department of Parks and Recreation ("DPR"). Each agency evaluates the potential impact of a proposed mobile telecommunications installation on the reserved pole and the surrounding area within its jurisdiction.
Applications for attachment to privately-owned (by electricity or land-line telephone providers) wooden utility poles must include prior permission from the utility company that owns the pole. DoITT will grant franchisees permission to use utility poles located on City sidewalks only after approval documents have been provided from the utility company owner, in addition to any other required City approvals (e.g. LPC, Parks).