5G FAQs

What is “5G”?

5G is the latest generation of wireless networking technology, and it is being deployed by private network providers in Louisville beginning in 2020. Generally, 5G service is provided through a physical infrastructure consisting of a series of small wireless facilities or “small cells” that are cabinets mounted on poles and are connected to fiber optic cable located either underground or on overhead utility lines that are installed primarily in the public Right of Way.  In certain cases, some elements may be installed on private property within utility easements. In Louisville the primary network providers are Verizon Wireless and AT&T, both of whom hold valid telecommunication franchises with Louisville Metro Government as required by local ordinance Chapter 116.  It should be noted that 5G small cells are not the large steel-framed macro towers located off the Right of Way, typically on private or leased property. 

 
How is the installation of the 5G network regulated?

The installation of system elements is regulated by several entities:

 

Federal Communications Commission (FCC): The providers must obtain permits from the FCC ensuring compliance with all applicable federal requirements, including health and technical requirements.  FCC regulations also allow review by local governments within certain time and design parameters. FCC regulations provide some flexibility between the applicants and the local government within these parameters. FCC regulations limit Metro’s ability to control siting but does provide limited review authority pursuant to local ordinances.  There are no automatic approvals if the deadlines are missed. 5G Small Cell Permitting Process

Louisville Metro Government: For its component of the review allowed by the FCC, Louisville Metro Government regulates the installation of the telecommunications systems in accordance with Louisville Metro Ordinance Chapter 116 and through the permitting process administered by the Department of Public Works (PW).  Small cells installed in the public right of way require review by PW for compliance with the Right of Way Guide and Utility Policy and consideration of public comment.  The first step in the process is where the provider provides a notice of the intent to install a small cell in a specific location is provided to all property owners within 150’ of the installation site via first class mail by the service provider.  This notice is sent concurrent with PW review of the small cell.  The public has 14 days to respond to the provider with any comments as directed in the notice. Comments directed to PW will also be considered. Following the public comment period, if all PW guidelines are satisfied including consideration of public comment, the next step is for the provider to apply for an Encroachment Permit that may be issued by PW for installation of the small cell.

Historic Areas:​ 

  • As part of the federal permitting process through the FCC, the project may also be reviewed for impacts on historic properties. Historic properties in Louisville include properties in local preservation districts, National Register and National Register “eligible” areas. This review is also known as a “Section 106” review. In Kentucky, Section 106 reviews are administered by the Kentucky Heritage Council, the State Preservation Office (SHPO). For more information regarding the protection of historic resources, please see the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s guide: Protecting Historic Properties: A Citizen’s Guide to Section 106 Review
  • Installation of small cells on private properties (i.e., not public Right of Way) in local preservation districts also requires review and approval by the Louisville Metro Landmarks Commission for compliance with applicable Design Guidelines which generally guide installation of utility items toward side and rear of properties when possible.

Who do I contact with concerns?

Construction related issues such as blocked sidewalk, debris, unclean site:

  • The provider must be notified first! Call the contact listed in the notice letter provided by the service provider and make your comments known clearly and in detail. One of the providers, Verizon, has created a website for this purpose. 
  • Department of Public Works by phone at 574-3121 or by email.
  • Metro311.

Concerns about location of a small/mini cell:

  • The provider must be notified first! Call the contact listed in the notice letter provided by the service provider and make your comments known clearly and in detail. One of the providers, Verizon, has created a website for this purpose. 
  • Department of Public Works by phone at 574-3121 or by email

Concerns about impacts to historic properties: 

  • As part of the 106 review process (see item 2.c.i above) interested citizens may request to become a “consulting party.” You can request to become a “consulting party” through the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) or the provider directly. For small cells and other telecommunications projects, contact Gabrielle Fernandez at (502) 892-3623 or visit their website
  • For local Landmarks concerns contact Metro Preservation Officer Cynthia Elmore at 574-2868 or by email. Cynthia is also a great resource for questions about historic reviews and the 106 process.