FAQ for UTL 3.08
What is the purpose for UTL 3.08?
UTL 3.08 regulates the placement of macro wireless facilities in the city’s right of way. Since 2005, the city has allowed the placement of wireless facilities in the right of way through franchise agreements. Franchise agreements are negotiated by the Office for Community Technology (OCT).
Since 2009, regulations for macro wireless facilities in the right of way were part of the franchise agreements, which is a contract to build and install infrastructure in the right of way. The city is transitioning those requirements from each company’s franchise agreement into an administrative rule so that the standards and procedures will be available publicly and applied uniformly to all wireless carrier applicants.
OCT created an interim rule, UTL 3.08, based on the requirements in the franchise agreements. The interim rule was created on April 15, 2019. We are not proposing any changes from the 2009 requirements. We intend to finalize those rules on October 11, 2019.
What is a macro wireless facility? What is OCT’s role?
A “macro wireless facility” or “macro site” is any Wireless Communications Facility that is not a Small Wireless Facility. A macro site provides signal for 2G, 3G, and 4G communication. The Office for Community Technology is responsible for negotiating franchise agreements with wireless carriers and regulating macro wireless facilities in the right of way.
What about small cells?
A “small wireless facility” or “small cell” is any Wireless Communications Facility that has an antenna no more than three cubic feet in volume and are mounted on structures 50 feet or less in height. The majority of small cells will be attached to both City-owned and third-party utility street light or signal light poles in the public right-of-way. Additional sites may be permitted on privately-owned structures.
For small wireless facility requirements, please refer to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) website.
Are macro wireless facilities 5G?
No. 5G (or fifth generation) is the latest technological standard for wireless communications technology that are transmitted on small cells. Early wireless communications provided analog voice on cell phones. This was followed by digital voice and the ability to send texts. 3G and 4G provided the ability to send data through smart phones. 4G (or LTE) is the current standard being used. 5G proposes to increase capacity, efficiency and download speeds on our smart phones and is supported by a small cell site. As technology evolves, older generations are gradually phased out by carriers. This phase out may take years and multiple generations could be in place at the same time.
Why aren’t you proposing any changes?
The city’s goal is to transition macro wireless facilities to PBOT’s vertical infrastructure program. We anticipate that that process will begin within the next two years. UTL 3.08 is intended to bridge the transition.
I have questions/concerns about this rule. How do I let the city know?
OCT will be holding a public meeting on Thursday, September 19th, from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm at the East Portland Community Center, 740 SE 106th, Portland, OR 97216, to discuss the rule with interested residents.
If you cannot attend, you may submit comments to ComTech@portlandoregon.gov.
Is notice required to neighborhoods and residents for macro wireless facilities?
UTL 3.07 was adopted in 2012 and sets out the notice requirements for macro wireless facilities. The purpose of UTL 3.08 is to establish objective, aesthetic standards for macro wireless facilities.
What about health concerns?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not allow local authorities to deny public right-of-way small cell installations on the basis of concerns about radio frequency (RF) emissions if the facilities comply with FCC rules and standards. The FCC and American Cancer Society have information about RF safety on their websites:
- FCC: https://www.fcc.gov/engineering-technology/electromagnetic-compatibility-division/radio-frequency-safety/faq/rf-safety
- FCC: https://www.fcc.gov/general/oet-bulletins-line#65
- American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/radiation-exposure/cellular-phone-towers.html
- The Portland City Council recently passed a resolution that encouraged the FCC to complete a more thorough health and safety study regarding 5G frequencies.
- Congressman Peter DeFazio has also sent a letter to the FCC urging a similar study.