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Broadband Strategy and Small Cell Deployment
To successfully implement the City’s Digital Inclusion and Broadband Strategy, a robust citywide public and private sector digital infrastructure is required. The City currently partners with telecommunication companies that maintain antennas across the City, many of which are installed on City property, such as streetlights and traffic lights. These antennas are known as "small cells”. The City seeks to leverage small cell technology, which will offer enhanced voice and data capacity citywide, improve emergency communication capability, and pave the way for the equitable deployment of 5G broadband technology. The City is currently finalizing agreements with AT&T, Mobilitie, T-Mobile, and Verizon.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What are the benefits of small cell technology?
A: Small cell technology offers enhanced voice and data capacity citywide, improves emergency communication capability, and paves the way for the equitable deployment of 5G broadband technology. Additionally, allowing small cells generates revenue for the Digital Inclusion Program to support efforts to close the digital divide for the residents of San José, with a focus on low-income youth as well as other vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and disabled, providing affordable broadband service, devices, and digital literacy to underserved communities.  All income received from small cell usage fee revenue is to be allocated to the Digital Inclusion Program Fund.

Q: How is the City using this opportunity to help underserved communities?
A: No other city has chosen to dedicate the usage fees generated from leasing streetlights to target digital inclusion. 95,000 San Jose residents do not have access to high-speed internet at home. The commitment to equity and making a difference sets the City of San Jose apart as a leader.

Q: What is the City doing to ensure aesthetic appeal and design?
A: The City of San Jose understands the need to ensure aesthetic appeal when considering infrastructure enhancements and is devoted to developing sensible, fair, and safe small cell design and permitting guidelines that deliberately address aesthetic appeal. 

San Jose Small Cell
Q: What infrastructure in the public right way is not under the city’s design control?
A: The City has limited control over PG&E (wood) poles. The City is not the landlord of this private infrastructure, therefore the City’s involvement is limited to safety inspection related to construction and traffic management, which is designated in sections 7901 and 7901.1 of the California Public Utility Code. The City is not legally able to enforce design standards on PG&E wood poles or poles managed by the Northern California Joint Pole Association. Design approval, permitting, and control of these poles reside with the California Public Utilities Commission as defined by General Order No. 95.

Q: How is the City working with other government entities to address safety concerns?
A: Wireless antennas are closely regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The City complies with all regulations set forth by the FCC to alleviate any potential health or safety concern. The safety of radio waves has been extensively studied and government agencies and groups that set standards continuously review this research. The approved radiated emission levels meet current accepted health and safety guidelines. Additionally, small cell antennas transmit very low levels of radio waves compared to traditional cell antennas. For more information, please refer to the FCC’s Safety FAQ and the Safety Information page. Additional details can be found at the U.S Food and Drug Administration, the National Cancer Institute, and the World Health Organization

Small Cell Guidelines

The City of San José partners with telecommunications companies installing small cell equipment on City-owned property to ensure there are reasonable and consistent guidelines that help streamline the permitting review and approval process. The City is committed to design standards that integrate into the existing streetlights, minimize visual impact, and remain safe and secure. 

Small Cell Permit and Design Guidelines [May 22, 2019]

Small Cell Screening Map

Contact Information and Community Outreach