City officials review small-cell antennas for 5G network

VERIZON WIRELESS submitted the above drawing and photo of a small-cell antenna pole to municipal officials in Kirkland, Wash., last winter, providing images of infrastructure that could create a 5G network in the community. The images were published in January in the Kirkland Reporter, a local newspaper.

Madison officials agreed last month to allow Verizon Wireless to set up small-cell antenna poles in the city rights-of-way, assisting the construction of a proposed 5G internet network in Madison. Some local residents are now wondering what those antenna poles might look like.

Part of the discussion during the public comment session at Monday's Madison City Commission meeting dealt with those proposed antenna poles. Marshall Dennert of Madison asked about the number of poles that 5G network developers could install in Madison and their look and location.

Mayor Roy Lindsay said the October agreement with Verizon Wireless made city rights-of-way available for the 5G antenna poles. Commissioner Mike Waldner, who has professional experience in internet and information technology, told Dennert that the number of poles could range from seven to 25, varying due to the availability of other structures in Madison that a wireless provider could use.

Small cells are considered a critical building block of proposed 5G internet networks. The small cells are used to extend coverage of mobile networks to indoor areas where outdoor signals have trouble penetrating, or they can add network capacity to areas that possess dense cell phone usage.

In an article published in a British newsletter called the, experts report that the small cells provide service at a lower cost than a standard wireless base station, but they have a shorter range than the standard base stations. The standard stations, or macrocells, typically offer a range of 30 to 45 miles of wireless coverage on flat terrain.

Waldner said a wireless provider could mount small-cell antennas on the sides of buildings or other tall structures. Waldner added that the provider could install antenna poles that meet Madison's standards for aesthetics.

He suggested that Madison residents could perform internet searches, using the search words "small cells," to find examples of small-cell networks.

The city expects the 5G wireless companies to pay for their antenna poles and installation.

Brad Lawrence, city utility director, noted that Madison's agreement with Verizon Wireless was a master-license agreement. The company would still need to submit proposals to city officials concerning each site where workers would erect an antenna pole.

Public school resource officer

Dennert asked about funding details between the city of Madison and the Madison Central School District for a school resource officer. He also inquired about Lake County's continued involvement in the SRO program.

Waldner said that at this time, county officials had declined to have any funding participation next year in the Madison Central SRO program. City and public school officials are planning to financially support the program next year, splitting expenses between the city and school district.

Madison officials are currently writing a draft agreement that municipal and school officials will review. Jennifer Eimers, city finance officer, said the proposal for the 2019 SRO program could come before the city commissioners for review during the next several weeks.