Small Cell Installation


Small Cells on Mercer Island

In 2016, the City of Mercer Island received applications for 39 T-Mobile small cell antennas; most of the T-Mobile small cells were installed between late 2017 and late 2018. In 2019, the City of Mercer Island received applications for an additional 46 Verizon small cell antennas. Both applications were filed by Crown Castle (WA-CLEC, LLC) on behalf of the wireless providers (i.e. T-Mobile and Verizon). Locations of the installations are shown in this map.



Small Cells on Mercer Island

In 2016, the City of Mercer Island received applications for 39 T-Mobile small cell antennas; most of the T-Mobile small cells were installed between late 2017 and late 2018. In 2019, the City of Mercer Island received applications for an additional 46 Verizon small cell antennas. Both applications were filed by Crown Castle (WA-CLEC, LLC) on behalf of the wireless providers (i.e. T-Mobile and Verizon). Locations of the installations are shown in this map.


Do you have a question on the proposed Small Cell Installations?  Please submit your question here and staff will provide a response.

Have a question? Ask it here!

Ajax loader transparent
Didn't receive confirmation?
Seems like you are already registered, please provide the password or use a different email ID
  • Who was/is responsible for agreeing to the installation of these small cell antennas from Crown Castle/T-Mobile? What benefit or payment is the city and residents receiving by allowing T-Mobile/Crown Castle or future companies to install these small cell antennas? Does the city of Mercer Island guarantee their safety in the proposed and current setup? Could you please provide the health and safety studies for the current installations, coverage/exposure and cell antenna array? I could not find a single study discussing the use of 3g, 4g, or the potential of 5g in the small cell antenna array that has been implemented.

    Graeme asked 4 months ago

    FCC regulations require that the City of Mercer Island approve small cell permits, while giving the City very little discretion.  Based on these regulations, the City has approved the permits for the Crown Castle installation of small cell antennas (on behalf of T-Mobile) and we are currently reviewing permits for more installations (on behalf of Verizon).  The FCC rules pre-empt local governments, like the City of Mercer Island, from evaluating small cell installations based on health and safety or otherwise “materially inhibiting” the deployment of small cell coverage.  The Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 gives the FCC sole jurisdiction in regulating Radio-Frequency (RF) emissions. 

    Small cells have been hot topic on Mercer Island, and I wanted to make sure you are aware of changes to the regulations in the last 10 months or so.  The FCC has issued a “new rule” (here: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-353962A1.pdf) which curtails the City’s authority to review small cells in a number of ways – notably the City cannot prevent the installation of small cells, or “densifying” the wireless coverage (page 16 of the PDF, item 36 and subsequent).  This new rule limits the City’s ability to require a change in the location of the small cell, though we will be applying pressure on Crown Castle to address neighborhood concerns.  

    The FCC’s new rule has been appealed by a number of cities (including Bellevue, Seattle, Portland, LA).  To date, the appeal has not moved very far through the judicial process.  Because the FCC’s new rule is “in force” until the appeal is resolved, the City has adopted interim standards (here: https://mercerisland.municipal.codes/MICC/19.06.070) that are intended to focus on minimizing the aesthetic impact to the extent feasible.  Longer term, we are currently anticipating that we will adopt new, permanent standards that will also be intended to minimize the aesthetic impact of small cells.  Things like enhanced limits on noise, requiring the undergrounding of power, creating incentives for collocation, and requiring hollow poles with internal equipment and antenna mounts will be discussed more fully by the Planning Commission and City Council.  This page will be updated with more information as this process progresses.


  • Does the small cell site pose health hazard to human?

    Ning asked 4 months ago

    We understand the health hazard to be a question around the radio-frequency emissions (i.e. radiation) from a small cell antenna.  The Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 designates the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as the sole jurisdiction that can regulate radio-frequency emissions from cellular facilities (small cells and the traditional cell tower).  The City seeks confirmation from the small cell provider that the facility is built consistent with FCC requirements.  The City does not conduct a separate review of radiation resulting from small cell antennas – and consequently does not have a further basis for answering this question.


  • Is the City doing anything to anticipate delivery by drones or use of drones for other reasons? I find them incredibly invasive....not only for their use to view my property but also for their loud, obnoxious noise and close overhead flying patterns. There are realtors in our neighborhood who use them, I assume to send information to non-local, including overseas, clients. The idea of delivery service by drones leaves me feeling even more as if my personal space is being invaded by corporate convenience. I definitely am against delivery by drones and, quite honestly, would prefer they be banned on MI. I know that last "wish" is unlikely to ever come about. Thanks. Anne Fox

    Anne asked 4 months ago

    The City is not currently doing anything to manage the use of drones on Mercer Island.  Drones are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has information available here: https://www.faa.gov/uas/.