Virginia State Bar

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

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Local Government

A Section of the Virginia State Bar.

Sample Small Cell Permits and Agreements

In the past several years, there has been an exponential increase in the number of wireless devices such as cell phones, laptops, sensors, etc., and wireless service providers such as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile have had to find a way to densify their wireless networks in order to keep up with the increased demand.  Prior to 2017, these electronic devices were connected wirelessly through macro-towers, the traditional “cell tower” that you may have seen with little more frequency than municipal water towers.  As demand increased, a new type of antenna known as a “small cell” was introduced into the marketplace, with the ability to supplement traditional macro-towers to provide ubiquitous broadband coverage to connect these devices.  Although smaller in size than macro-towers, these need to be much lower to the ground and there needs to be many more of them in order to accommodate the demand.  The wireless  providers began negotiating with individual businesses and property owners to get access to property and install the antennas and infrastructure.  The providers quickly found out that due to the amount of small cells needed, especially in densely populated areas, this one-by-one approach was not easy.  So in 2017, the providers began fiercely lobbying the Virginia General Assembly (and a multitude of other states), and the federal government to pass legislation that would streamline the process and allow providers unfettered access to public rights-of-way to install wireless infrastructure.  Between 2017-2019 several bills were passed in Virginia, as well as 23 other states.  In 2018, the Federal Communications Commission released an order that took effect in 2019, making all states subject to small cell legislation and pre-empting many of the state laws in the process. (FCC Order link)

Because this area of law developed so quickly and because many local government attorneys have no experience in this area, the Local Government Section has created an online reference resource for local government attorneys, which contains templates intended to provide a sample framework for Virginia localities to customize and scale for their own needs. If you have examples you would like to add to this list, please contact Susan Custer at susan.custer@lgava.org.  

Sample Cell Letter Template
Sample Cell Franchise Template
Sample Small Cell Application Template
Sample Small Cell Master License for Attachment to Municipal Structures

Arlington County

Fairfax County