The City of Westminster is getting more interest from wireless carriers who are seeking to place small cell wireless facilities in the city’s public rights-of-way (ROW). These FAQs are intended to provide a guide to aid in the understanding of this new addition to the public ROW.

Small cell facilities provide supplemental support for “macro” networks (antennas and equipment mounted on towers or building rooftops). They are intended to help carry the increasing data load and allow for users to have better connections and more speed.

Small cell facilities are called “small cell” because of their lower level of functionality and capacity. Small cell installations cannot replace “macro” installations. They augment the performance of the larger sites and help to improve service in existing coverage areas.

Small cell is used to support 5G technology. 5G is the fifth generation of cellular mobile communications. 5G performance provides higher data processing rates, energy savings, cost reductions, higher system capacity, and improved device connectivity. 

While there will be variations, the City is generally asking for new poles to have the same overall height (25 to 35 feet tall), color, and finish of poles that are already installed nearby.The new poles will typically either replace existing streetlights where feasible, or will stand in-line with existing streetlights.As much as possible, the style of the poles will be consistent and will look like those in the images below.

wireless 1.jpg

wireless 2.jpg

The City’s Small Cell Infrastructure Guidelines can be found on the City web site. This 76 page document provides aesthetic requirements and technical infrastructure specifications for small cell poles located within the public right-of-way. This is the maximized extent of regulation allowed by the FCC and State of Colorado.

20 permits have been issued to date for small cell installations in the City. Each permit equates to one location. It is difficult to anticipate exactly how many small cell installations the City will see over time. Based on what is understood about mobile carriers’ goals, the City could see between 1,000 and 1,500 installations.

For all installations, the City requires that the new pole be designed, built, and installed in such a way that both 4G and 5G technologies are fully supported. There are spacing requirements for the poles to avoid cluttering the City’s public ROW. Generally speaking, poles will be situated in-line with existing street light poles. Installations must avoid driveways, sidewalks, crosswalks, right-of-way dependent facilities, (bus stops, mail boxes, manholes, etc.), and existing sub-surface and surface utilities.

Wherever possible, installations will be located adjacent to the property line between two adjoining properties to minimize the impact for both property owners. If the carrier is replacing an existing street light pole with a light pole / small cell combination pole, then the new pole will have the same location profile (i.e. height) as the street light pole had before the change.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a properly installed small cell pole should not represent any danger to public health.

No. The city is compelled to allow small cell poles by state and federal laws that give access to the city’s public ROW to wireless facility providers. The city will do its best to minimize potentially adverse impacts, but cannot prevent the use of the public ROW for this purpose.

For more information, please contact David German, senior planner, at 303.658.2479 or