A Crown Castle installation

Every installation is unique and must be carefully planned and executed to meet the needs of the community it serves, as well as the municipality that oversees it. In general, all installations happen in three phases: assessment, planning, and construction. For specific questions, please reach out to your Crown Castle representative.


Before any plans are drafted or construction begins, we do a formal assessment to determine the best approach to address the communication needs of the community. This phase typically lasts 3 months.

  • A carrier identifies an area with a need for increased access or coverage, often determined by customer demand, upcoming events, and performance network metrics.
  • Our engineers collaborate with the carrier to identify general locations to satisfy the needs of residents, business owners, and local support services like fire and police. Local codes and expected impact also play a part.
  • We then identify specific locations to install new small cell solutions (SCS) networks based on a careful and thorough review of existing poles and neighborhood sites—in compliance with local rules and regulations.


In this phase, our engineers begin planning an SCS deployment based on our careful assessment. The length of this phase is determined in large part by the municipality’s processes, but is generally completed in two or more months. All municipalities are required to respond to permit applications within the timeframes required by state and federal law.

  • We work with the local municipality’s Public Works department and utilities to finalize the site locations, designs, and fiber route.
  • We submit all required information and applications for a variety of permits, including right of way, excavation, traffic control, land use, and construction.
  • For some projects, we hold meetings with community members to gather input.
  • We will notify residents about upcoming installations in accordance with local ordinances.


All projects are overseen by a construction manager who ensures that the installation is carried out in a safe and proper manner. This phase usually lasts two to three months.

  • We work with vendors to install the new SCS network and lay any required fiber.
  • As needed, we may apply for additional permits, including traffic control permits. The local utility may also apply for authorizations during this phase.
  • We comply with all applicable local codes, including building, public works, and electrical codes—ensuring that all equipment complies with FCC guidelines for radiofrequency emissions.
  • The local municipality’s public works inspectors actively monitor the construction during this stage to issue certificates of completion and occupancy.


Who is Crown Castle?

Crown Castle is the nation’s largest provider of shared communications infrastructure—including cell towers, rooftop antennas, small cell solutions, and fiber optic networks. We work closely with wireless carriers, municipalities, utility companies, and landowners to make sure communities have the infrastructure in place to support data, technologies, and wireless services they rely on. We have a national footprint with a local presence in every major market in the US, helping us to respond to the individual needs of each community we serve.

What kind of service does Crown Castle provide?

Our infrastructure is used by wireless carriers to provide telecommunication services. In many cases, we also own the fiber that carries voice and data traffic from the antennas to a central location and out to the public switched telephone network or the Internet.

Is Crown Castle a wireless provider?

No. We do not provide wireless services and are not licensed to provide wireless services. We lease space on our infrastructure to multiple wireless carriers who attach their own telecommunications equipment and offer wireless services to their customers.

What entitles Crown Castle to place and maintain communications facilities in the public right of way? How can we obtain a copy of your State regulatory authorization?

We are certified and regulated as a CLEC (competitive local exchange carrier) to provide telecommunications service across the country. In each state, we obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the State Public Service/Utility Commission. This is granted once we meet all the requirements to qualify as a regulated utility. A copy can be obtained from your State’s website, or we can provide a copy here.

What is Crown Castle asking us to do?

We are applying for the right to construct, operate, manage, and maintain a telecommunications network in the public right of way (ROW). This is necessary in order to provide the residents, visitors, and businesses of your community with the expanded wireless coverage and capacity that’s needed in the area. The new infrastructure will also support emerging technologies like 5G, the Internet of Things (IOT), and smart communities. All applications and construction work will be performed in compliance with your ordinances and permitting requirements. To make this process as smooth and seamless as possible, we will be requesting authorization for the following:

  • The affirmation of our right to enter into the public right of way to construct telecommunication services.

  • The right to utilize any municipally owned streetlights, traffic signal poles, and/or municipally owned fiber and conduit for an agreed annual fee for the colocation of our facilities.

How long do we have to respond to Crown Castle’s application?

We hope to work closely with you so we can get started on your community’s wireless upgrade as soon as possible. Federal law does require local authorities to act on the application, in writing, expeditiously to avoid creating an unlawful barrier to entry. The definition of “expeditious” varies depending on the application:

  • For an application to access the public right of way, you’ll need to return a “completeness” determination within 30 days after submission.
  • For a colocation application (attaching to a utility or other existing pole in the public right of way), the FCC has said that 60 or 90 days is a reasonable time for final action.
  • For facilities other than colocation, that time is extended to 150 days.

To avoid a “failure to act” ruling (as defined under the federal Communications Act) it’s important that local authorities respond within these timeframes.

What information can we require Crown Castle to provide?

We are happy to provide information you need related to the construction we’ll be doing in the public right of way, as well as the ongoing presence of our equipment there. We are open to discussing the possibility of disclosing any additional information you’d like to see.

Can the municipality impose restrictions on Crown Castle’s use of the public right of way?

We understand that you have both a legal authority and a vested interest in managing all construction and physical occupation of the public right of way, and we are eager to partner with you to ensure that our work is done according to your regulations and standards. You can, for instance, require insurance, performance, bonds, and/or compliance with standard, non-discriminatory construction permitting. You can also impose requirements pertaining to the “time and manner” of construction. Most importantly, we want to assure you that we will adhere to all of your safety regulations and look forward to working with you to ensure that happens. However, restrictions that extend beyond a municipality’s ability to manage construction and occupation of the public right of way are not permitted under law.

Does Crown Castle have the same rights as the incumbent local telephone company?

Yes. The law requires you to treat providers like Crown Castle in a competitively neutral and non-discriminatory manner. This means, for example, that you can’t impose requirements or fees that are not also imposed on the incumbent telephone company—regardless of the difference of facility installation or service offering.

What facilities does Crown Castle need to install to provide service to the community?

Every installation is unique, but generally speaking, the wireless service that your community depends on requires a combination of fiber optic lines connected to small cell nodes (containing wireless antennas), as well as optical and other associated equipment. In most cases, we will need to install a certain amount of fiber optic cable—either underground or aerially on existing utility poles. If appropriate, we may also lease capacity on existing fiber optic facilities owned by the municipality or other providers. The nodes and associated equipment will need to be installed on existing utility poles, streetlights, or traffic signals. If none of these are available, a new pole that’s similar in size and shape to a streetlight can be installed in the public right of way—in compliance with all lawful local regulations governing such installations.

Will Crown Castle use existing utility poles?

Like you, we want to provide the highest quality installation with as little disruption as possible. That’s why we continually seek to colocate our facilities on existing utility poles or streetlights whenever possible—typically located in the public right-of-way. In cases where we use privately owned utility poles, we have entered into (or are in the process of entering into) the necessary pole attachment agreements. The federal Pole Attachment Act governs the rates, terms, and conditions that private utility pole owners may impose on our access to such poles.

Will Crown Castle need to install any new poles of its own?

Our goal is to utilize as much existing infrastructure as possible. However, in some cases, if no suitable utility poles are available, and if the municipality restricts our use of streetlights or traffic poles, we may need to install our own poles. In such cases, we will comply with all lawful local regulations governing such installations and work with the municipality to design a mutually acceptable installation.

How will our community benefit from this installation?

Residents, visitors, and businesses in your community are increasingly reliant on their mobile devices to live their lives and conduct business. As the population grows and people consume more wireless data, the infrastructure that currently serves your community will become strained, if it hasn’t already. A small cell solutions (SCS) network—like the one we’re proposing for your community—provides many benefits:

  • It uses a combination of high-capacity fiber and multiple, low-powered antennas to eliminate coverage gaps, add capacity, and increase data speeds.
  • It will serve as the foundational infrastructure for new and emerging technologies like 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the countless number of wireless connected devices on the horizon.
  • It improves safety by giving residents and visitors more reliable access to emergency services like 911.
  • It introduces competition to the market that can bring more services and choices to your community.
  • By allowing us to use your poles, fiber and/or conduit, you may be able to collect fees and bring new revenue to your municipality.

How does wireless infrastructure impact public safety?

Eighty percent of 911 calls originate from wireless devices. Your community’s network upgrade will give you more reliable access to public safety and emergency services like 911, while giving police, firefighters, and other first-responders the mission-critical information they need. Learn more.

What other locations has Crown Castle considered, and is it necessary to place your facilities in proximity to homes?

We take great care when considering where to place facilities in the public right-of-way, and many factors—including relevant permit conditions and regulations—are involved in the design, engineering, and construction of our networks. Small cell solutions (SCS) are a newer wireless technology that provides coverage through a fiber-optic-connected network of small, discreet antennas—or nodes. To minimize network congestion and maximize data speeds, each node is designed to cover a relatively small geographic area. To get the maximum benefit of the network, the nodes need to be placed in close proximity to where people use their mobile devices. That means that the specific locations selected may be in highly trafficked business and retail corridors or near homes—one of the primary places residents need their devices to work.

How flexible is your network design? Will Crown Castle consider moving a facility prior to or after installation?

When considering the location of sites, we collaborate closely with community members, wireless carriers, and municipal officials to ensure we’re bringing the maximum benefit to the community. In most cases, the equipment is placed on existing infrastructure and designed to blend in with the surroundings. If an issue arises, we will review the request and determine the feasibility of modifying our design without compromising the network performance.

How many installations does Crown Castle contemplate for the current project? Will you come back with plans for more in the future?

Our networks are carefully designed and customized to satisfy the current and projected needs and specifications of your area. We take into consideration many different factors when determining site locations and seek to provide as little disruption as possible. Any subsequent expansion will be based on the needs of the wireless carriers in your area, and can often be accommodated through modification of the existing pole installations, or with new pole installations along the existing fiber network.

How does Crown Castle plan to communicate to surrounding property owners prior to construction?

We make sure to notify nearby residents at least 48 hours before any scheduled construction—providing them with relevant details and contact information should they have any concerns. We do this in compliance with permit conditions or other regulations applicable to the installation of our utility equipment in the public right-of-way.

Does the equipment generate noise?

Any noise from our equipment is minimal and is typically related to the cooling of the electronics. We carefully measure noise at installation, regularly monitor it afterward, and comply with all city noise ordinances.

Will we receive any revenue or compensation from Crown Castle’s network, either in the form of a franchise fee or pole rent?

If your municipality owns the poles, you are entitled to receive revenue through pole attachment fees. Or you may be eligible for a revenue-share if a franchise fee is required by a State statue or jurisdictional ordinance.

What measures has Crown Castle taken to validate the structural integrity of the poles it has targeted for attachment?

We take great care when designing the nodes and installing our equipment. The structural integrity of the pole is carefully evaluated by licensed architects or engineers prior to installation and, of course, we comply with all local, state and federal safety regulations. All of our equipment is inspected on a regular basis and is monitored around the clock by our Network Operations Center.

What are the health effects of the equipment?

We fully comply with all FCC regulations addressing the safety of our technology. Throughout the installation process, we work with jurisdictional authorities to address all questions, including health and safety matters. There is no evidence however, of any adverse effects from cellular signals. For more information or links to reputable studies, visit the websites of the American Cancer Society, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), and the World Health Organization.

What are the emissions levels and power output of the equipment?

Transmission levels vary based on the equipment used. Radio output power can be as low as five to 10 watts per frequency band, or as high as 80 to 120 watts per band. RF exposure levels resulting from these ranges are well below the levels that the FCC has deemed safe. At the high end, RF exposure levels would rarely, if ever, exceed 10% of what FCC guidelines permit, at ground level in close proximity to the node pole. On the low end, that number is typically less than 0.5%. For reference, these ranges are similar to what you would expect from your local TV and radio signals.

What happens if a pole is damaged? How long does it take to repair?

Crown Castle operates with the highest standards for reliability and service. Our network facilities are monitored around the clock, 365 days a year, and each site displays the telephone number to call in case of an accident or incident. We have a strong track record of safety, but in the unlikely event there is an issue, Crown Castle will work to repair the pole and restore service as quickly as possible. The timing for this depends on several factors—primarily who owns the pole:

  • For carrier-owned stealth or custom poles, we will typically set up a temporary pole right away, if allowed by the jurisdiction. It will then take several weeks to get a replacement pole from the manufacturer.
  • For utility-owned wood poles, the utility will typically set up a new pole within the same day (barring extreme situations like a hurricane or other issues that impede safety). Once the power and local exchange carrier equipment are restored, we will be allowed to transfer our equipment.
  • For a Crown Castle-owned wood pole, we typically set a new pole and transfer equipment the same day, but depending on specific circumstances, it could take up to two days.
  • For a Crown Castle-owned metal streetlight pole, turnaround time can take up to one week.
  • For a municipality-owned streetlight pole controlled by a streetlight department, the timeline could be longer, depending on the response time of the municipality.

What happens when equipment or fiber needs to be relocated (e.g., due to a road widening)?

In the event that we need to relocate our equipment or fiber, we will coordinate with the relevant utility companies and municipalities to schedule and plan the move. Several steps will need to taken, including:

  • Power distribution with the utility provider and scheduling coordination with other pole tenants.
  • Wireless customers who may be impacted by the move will need to be considered and accommodated.
  • Equipment will be relocated, installed, and connected to power.
  • Fiber will need to be spliced, relocated, and routed back to the hub.
  • The network will be re-optimized and turned back on.

Will this installation improve economic development in our area?

There are many factors that contribute to the economic growth of an area, and it’s difficult if not impossible to estimate the effect of any one of those factors. But it’s clear that reliable wireless coverage does play an important and positive role in keeping and attracting businesses to your community. Traditional businesses are increasingly relying on wireless networks to boost the productivity of their employees and attract new customers. While many emerging businesses, like ride-sharing services, wouldn’t be able to operate at all without reliable wireless coverage. Additionally, when attracting residents to your community, a recent study found that 76% of Americans ranked mobile service an important consideration when purchasing a home.

Are small cell solutions related to Smart Communities?

Yes. Smart Community technologies like smart buses, streetlights, and traffic lights rely on a series of network-connected sensors that transmit data and respond to changing conditions. A small cell solutions network can serve as the foundational infrastructure that will provide these sensors with the connections they need to function. We are in a position to work in partnership with municipalities, tech companies, and wireless carriers to help communities implement these technologies quickly and strategically.

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