WATERLOO — The city is hoping new guidelines strike a balance between the demand for high-speed wireless service and community aesthetics.

Waterloo City Council members will be asked Monday to approve design guidelines for “small cell” communications equipment being rolled out nationwide.

Small cell technology involves larger amounts of small equipment placed around a community rather than fewer larger towers, which dramatically increases connection speeds for mobile devices and will allow new 5G networks which are four times faster than the current 4G networks.

Rollouts of small cell equipment have created conflicts where city and county officials fear clusters of the devices attached to utility poles and in the right-of-way can aesthetically unpleasing or even hazardous.

The Legislature in 2017 passed a bill limiting local governments’ ability to restrict small cell wireless deployments. It did give local governments the right to put some restrictions on the appearance and location of the equipment.

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Waterloo’s proposed 12-page small cell design guidelines note the city would prefer to see the equipment in industrial and commercial areas and highway rights-of-way and not located in residential areas and parks.

The city also would prefer equipment be placed on existing utility poles and not placed on ornamental street lights or sign poles.

The guidelines include numerous other recommendations on appearance and maintenance of the equipment.

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday in City Hall and will be preceded by a 4:50 p.m. work session to go over the small cell design guidelines.

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Waterloo City Reporter

Waterloo city reporter for the Courier

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