Small Cell Wireless Facilities

Norfolk Small Cell Wireless Facility Locations, Information, and Status Map

Click here for a larger map.

What are small cells?

  • Small Cells consist of an antenna and associated equipment.
  • Small cells are less than 60 ft. tall – or no more than 10% taller than adjacent structures.
  • The small cell antenna is 6 cubic feet or less.
  • The associated equipment is no more than 28 cubic feet.
  • Small Cells are typically mounted on new or existing utility poles.

Examples of Small Cells

Hampton-43rd Opens in new windowRedgate Opens in new windowColley1 Opens in new window

(Click on the photo for Street View)

Why are Small Cells Being Installed Now?

  • To improve and enhance the capacity and coverage of wireless broadband and cell service and coverage – currently 4G, 4G LTE, and 5G service
  • Higher broadband capacity and speeds require small cells to be installed closer together to accommodate larger capacity and concentration of users – their range is 500 to 1000 feet.
  • To prepare for universal 5G and the services that will be enabled by it such as fixed broadband service – a possible competitor to CATV, autonomous vehicles, and the Internet of Things (IoT): smart streetlights, intelligent building controls, parking and flooding sensors, etc.

Norfolk’s Process

While state and federal laws assert that localities cannot prohibit the installation of small cell facilities, permits are required for a wireless company to install them in Norfolk’s right of way (streets and sidewalks) and special reviews are required for Historic Districts. Staff reviews each application and associated documentation then applies guidelines that the City devised in 2015 (as amended).  Each small cell installation is inspected for compliance with the guidelines and/or the permit. If the guidelines and permit conditions are not followed, the franchisee is contacted to correct. Staff also ensures that mandates within federal and state codes are met. Currently there are 5 (five) small cell franchises in Norfolk:  

Permit fees were capped at $270 per small cell by the FCC in 2019. These fees are collected as General Fund revenue.  As of January 31, 2020, AT&T, Mobilitie, and Verizon Wireless have installed 174 small cells. (see map above)

Policies, Documents and Codes

Additional Information & Links