Last week, Delaware’s Governor John Carney signed a bill into law that will allow telecommunications companies to deploy small cell technology throughout the state. Small cells are shoebox-sized antennas that can be affixed to existing structures — such as traffic signals, buildings, and streetlights. The size and flexibility of small cells can help carriers boost signals in geographically challenging areas or areas with a lot of interference.
Delaware’s bill effectively expands right-of-way allowances through the state’s Department of Transportation, to enable the use of small cells.
Network providers have been pushing state and local governments to allow small cell deployments in order to improve service. As 5G becomes a reality and more devices are connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), carriers argue that small cells will become necessary. However, the use of the technology has been limited by right-of-way issues and health concerns. Some cities have voted against small cell deployments on the basis that they may cause health issues for local residents.
At the state level, some 20 states are looking at bills similar to what Delaware just passed.
Immediately after the bill was signed, AT&T released a statement of support. AT&T recently announced that it would be expanding its 5G network trials to two additional cities with an eye toward offering standards-based deployments by the end of 2018. That work, the company argues, would be aided by easier small cell deployments. “The new law also will help enhance the delivery of government services through ‘smart city’ technology and lay the foundation that will support technologies of the future,” Denis Dunn, president, AT&T in Delaware said in a statement.