The installation of small-cell antennas will begin in city rights of way during the next few weeks.

Rockville adopted guidelines and fees for small-cell installations subsequent to a Federal Communications Commission order that went into effect Jan. 14. That order pre-empted many aspects of the city’s ability to regulate the installation of the small antennas used in the wireless network.

Small-cell antennas seek to create a next-generation 5G network that delivers faster internet and increases cell phone service coverage, as well as providing additional capacity for existing 4G networks. They can be a maximum of 3 cubic feet, with up to 28 cubic feet of associated equipment. They are intended to provide additional coverage in areas with a high volume of cell traffic, or to fill in areas with marginal coverage.

The FCC order requires local governments to allow the antennas in public rights of way; to act on applications to install antennas within 60 or 90 days, depending on the type of installation; and to publish aesthetic standards for the installation. It also regulates the fees that local governments can charge.

Fourteen permits for small wireless facilities have been issued so far by the City of Rockville, mainly on city-owned streetlight poles, which will be replaced and reinstalled to match existing poles.

For more information, visit and search for “small cell.”