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Temporary cell towers

Brian James

Can anyone provide me with information on how they are regulating temporary cell towers? For certain events, wireless providers often set up temporary towers to provide extra coverage. These towers are also used when a new service is being launched and they need that extra coverage until a more permanent tower is constructed.


A shadow of my former self
Staff member
From my college thesis (and several ordinances I've written):

From the definitions section -

C.O.W's - "Cells on Wheels", see Temporary Wireless Communication Facility.

Temporary Wireless Communication Facility - Any tower, pole, antenna, etc., designed for use while a permanent wireless facility is under construction, or for a special event or conference where a majority of people attending are wireless users.

Standards for COW's -

4.7 Temporary Wireless Communications Facilities
Any facility designed for temporary use (as defined in Article 2), is subject to the following:

1. Use of a temporary facility is allowed only if the owner has received a temporary use permit from the {Municipality Name} {Department Name}.

2. Temporary wireless facilities are permitted for use of no longer than 30 days for use while constructing permanent facilities, and no longer than 5 days for use during a special event.

3. The maximum height of a temporary wireless facility is 50 feet from grade.

4. Temporary facilities are subject all applicable portions of these regulations, excluding Sections 3.2 and 3.3. (these are the Submission and Plan requirements)

Hope this helps!


Your Thesis

Is your thesis available online or to purchase? Can you provide a bit more information about it? We have a C.O.W. in our neighborhood and are preparing to work on new city ordinances regarding the placement of cell towers. I am looking for good ordinance ideas and structure. We currently have nothing related to temporary structures.

What would be the proper way to cite or use the information in this post regarding C.O.W. ordinance wording.

Thanks for your help and consideration.


The lease agreements we obtain (with property owners, including municipal water tanks which are being painted) provide for six months of COW use. It's pretty rare to put one up "while a tower is being constructed," as there's just too much that could go awry.

Customers who do not presently have coverage can wait for a full-blown, permanent site. Putting up a COW would provide enhanced coverage in that area, and when Murphy occurs, the complaint desk lights up.

Usually a COW is needed for special events. NASCRA--I mean, CAR speedways, Super Bowls, national conventions. When the news came out about Gerald Ford, I asked if we would be needing a COW in DT GR. (Anything to get away from the suburban wasteland!) Turns out not, we already had excessive coverage in the area. Listening to the calculations was interesting, even though I no can speaka dat lingo.

Many jurisdictions (I'm a planner, not a wireless facilities specialist!) provide for temporary utility structures. Think Katrina clean-up. Resources at the orific--I mean, office, and I can share on Tuesday.