We’ve Published Our Proposed Director’s Rule on Design Standards for Small Wireless Facilities

Today, we’ve released our proposed Design Standards for Small Wireless Facilities (SWF) on Poles.

Our goal with these standards is to reduce visual impacts to the streets and sidewalks that form the public right-of-way while establishing rules concerning SWF design.

Wireless providers are already installing SWF in Seattle, and the City is implementing design standards because of the growing interest in placing SWF using poles in the public right-of-way. This version of the design standards has been updated based in part on the comments we received during our November 2019 comment period in the initial draft standards.

Most often installed on poles in the public right-of-way, SWF are antennas and related equipment that are smaller than traditional cell towers and extend wireless network coverage. With more people using smart phones and relying on mobile connectivity, wireless providers will need to increase the capacity of their networks and will want to install more SWF throughout Seattle.

Our proposal sets SWF design expectations for wireless providers, the City, and the public and provides clear direction on City requirements.

These standards are being developed to benefit the people who live, travel, and work in Seattle. The design standards we’re proposing will apply to devices installed on both metal and wood poles in Seattle’s right-of-way, such as telephone poles and streetlights.

To help you visualize what SWF look like, we’re including some examples on wood and metal poles with designs similar to the standards that we’re proposing.

A wooden utility pole with a streetlight, overhead power lines, and a side-mounted small wireless facility between the power lines and the streetlight

Example of a Wood Pole Side Mount

A metal pole with a streetlight at the top with side-mounted small wireless facility equipment below the streetlight arm

Example of a Metal Pole Side Mount

Among other things, the design standards establish the maximum dimensions for any SWF device installed on poles and set the maximum height increase for replacement poles. The standards include specific standards for pole height and diameter, canister and antenna size, accessory equipment locations, and cabling and conduit. There are also standards related to location preferences, context and placement, noise, and lighting, and specific design standards for the new Seattle Waterfront project area. The SWF installations will also need to comply with Streets Illustrated and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For more details, including photos and diagrams, you can read the design standards online. You can also find answers to frequently asked questions about SWF here.

Below, you’ll find a few diagrams of what the standards allow.

A line drawing of a metal utility pole with a streetlight to illustrate the guidelines: all panel antennas shall be located below the luminaire arm, panel antenna shall be no greater than 3’ height x 14” wide and shall not extend more than 16” from the pole’s surface to the outside edge of antenna; panel antenna shall be no greater than 3 cubic feet in volume. Equipment shall not extend beyond 16” from the pole surface; 15’ 6” minimum distance from grade.

Diagram 1: Small Wireless Facilities – Metal Pole Panel Antenna

A metal pole with a canister antenna above the streetlight arm to illustrate the guidelines: the canister can have a maximum 16” diameter or 1/3 larger than diameter of top of pole, whichever is smaller; equipment shall not extend beyond 16” from the pole surface, 15’ 6” minimum distance from grade.

Diagram 2: Small Wireless Facilities – Metal Pole Top-Mount Antenna

A line drawing of a metal utility pole with a streetlight and human figure to illustrate the guidelines: Reference Section F of the Design Standards for more information.

Diagram 3: Small Wireless Facilities – Waterfront Metal Pole Top-Mount Antenna

A wood pole with a canister antenna above side panel antenna and a lamp arm to illustrate the guidelines: a maximum of three side-mounted panel antenna. The panel antenna shall be no greater than 3’ height x 14” wide and shall not extend more than 16” from the pole’s surface to the outside edge of the antenna; panel antenna shall be no greater than 3 cubic feet in volume. Panel antenna shall be located at least 12” above the streetlight arm. There is a maximum of two 3” or smaller telecommunications conduits and one 2” power conduit. The cabinet shall be no greater than 48” long x 21” wide x 20” deep and can be a maximum of 25” from the pole surface; 15’ 6” minimum distance from grade.

Diagram 4: Small Wireless Facilities – Wood Pole Side and/or Top-Mounted Canister

A wood pole with side-mounted canister antenna above a streetlamp arm to illustrate the guidelines: Cabinet shall be no greater than 48” long x 21” wide x 20” deep and can be a maximum of 25” from the pole surface; a maximum of two 3” or smaller telecommunications conduits and one 2” power conduit; 15’ 6” minimum distance from grade.

Diagram 5: Small Wireless Facilities – Wood Pole Side-Mount Canister Antenna

We have released a SEPA Threshold Determination of Non-Significance (DNS) in conjunction with the design standards. We are currently accepting comments on the SWF design standards. The public comment period runs for two weeks from February 13, 2020 and closes at 5pm on February 27, 2020. In addition, any interested party may appeal the SEPA DNS by submitting a Notice of Appeal and a filing fee to the Office of the Hearing Examiner no later than 5:00pm on March 5, 2020. Please see the DNS for more information on submitting appeals.

Comments may be submitted online, by e-mail at telecom.wireless@seattle.gov, or by mail to:

Seattle Department of Transportation
Attn: Alyse Nelson
PO Box 34996
Seattle, WA 98124