Small Cells

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Permitting Small Cells in Carmel

What are Small Cells?

Small cells are access points for devices that connect to wireless networks operated by telecommunications and internet service providers. Wireless service providers deploy small cells to close coverage gaps in their existing networks, increase network capacity in high demand areas and meet the growing data demands of new technologies. Unlike the original large macro towers with long range antennas that were built to create the first wireless networks, small cells consist of low power short range radio antennas and related equipment mounted at heights of 50 feet or less. Small cells are typically attached to infrastructure such as streetlights, utility poles, or building walls allowing a more discrete installation while providing better connectivity.

Macro Cell Tower
Figure 1: Macro Cell Tower

Small Cell on Modified Street Light
Figure 2: Micro Cell on modified streetlight

Who Regulates Small Cells?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) serves as the regulating authority for all radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable communications throughout the United States. The FCC creates rules and regulations applicable to small cells such as allocating the frequencies they operate on, setting safety limits for human exposure to radio frequency emissions, and certifying that equipment used by wireless providers meets safety standards. As part of a national initiative to accelerate deployment of small cell infrastructure, the FCC created regulations that govern state and local government permit procedures.

The State of Indiana also has laws that limit local government’s ability to regulate small cell installation. These laws are designed to streamline the deployment of small cell networks across the state by standardizing the permit process. Among the items regulated by Indiana laws are application submittal procedures, permit review timelines, application fees, and exemptions from certain local standards and regulations.

Chapter 6, Article 9 of the City of Carmel Code of Ordinances regulates the placement of small cells in public rights-of-way within Carmel city limits. The Small Cell and Telecommunication Facilities ordinance specifies permit procedures and pole design standards, requires compliance with State and Federal regulations and defines the city’s Underground and Buried Utility District.

Click the links below for more information on small cells:

Radio Frequency Safety

What is a Small Cell?

Small Cells 101

Help Central Indiana receive better wireless service

Permitting Small Cells in Carmel

Wireless communications providers or other operators of wireless communications equipment must apply for a permit to construct, substantially modify, locate or co-locate a new small cell facility or wireless support structure within City of Carmel dedicated Rights-of-Way.

Submit a Small Cell Application to the City’s permit portal

As part of the permit process, all applications for placement of small cell facilities require a Board of Public Works and Safety approved waiver from the City’s Underground and Buried Utility District requirements. Applications seeking this waiver are available to the public upon request. The Board of Public Works and Safety meets the first and third Wednesday of each month. 

Click here for a map of proposed small cells pending approval

Neighborhood or Homeowners Associations may register to be notified by US Mail of any application for construction or placement of Small Cell facilities on new utility poles or support structures within the Association’s jurisdiction. To register, please email Neighborhood/Homeowners Association mailing address and contact information to

Inquiries regarding Small Cell in Carmel can be submitted to:

Caleb Warner,
 Engineering Administrator