The Wireless Communication Plan of the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Department is focused on bringing clarification to the intentions of the wireless communication plan for industry representatives, tower builders, landowners, and the general public. This plan was originally created in 1999 for the approval of commercial communication towers to be used for the transmitting and/ or receiving of wireless signals. Since 1999 this plan has been updated and molded to evolve with the technology innovations of the time. In March of 2011 this plan was updated to reflect changes made from the Unified Zoning Code and to give visual examples through pictures of what is and is not acceptable to use. An example being when to use a lattice- type support versus a monopole. The demand for wireless communication in the Wichita- Sedgwick County is at an all time high. The goal is to have hundreds of personal wireless service facility sites in the area by 2020. This will be achieved through three phases: coverage, capacity, and residential. The initial phase is used to spread the signal to new subscribers, the second phase is to build a bridge of coverage connecting the initial coverage and the final part is to enter residential areas to replace wired phones and create a personal wireless service.
The Planning Department took a list of industry issues brought to them from the community at workshops, roundtables, and interviews and had a professional consultant answer their concerns and put it in their Master Plan. This is a clear strength of this plan, a pluralist would argue that through addressing these issues everyone’s potential power is being used. The community is using their voice at forums to get their issues heard and the planners are using their resources to find an industry consultant to answer the concerns. Another strength of this plan is the use of technology to achieve economic and social growth. Urban Growth Areas identified in the Wichita-Sedgwick County Comprehensive Plan will be supported by lattice-type support structures outside of the boundaries and personal wireless services inside the boundaries. They will be able to provide better cellular, radio, and basic wireless services. They will also encourage growth through their ‘Abandonment or Discontinuation of Use’ clause. If for any reason that a facility is no longer used the zoning code mandates that is must be physically removed. This will allow space for new technological advances in the future.
The weakness of this plan is that is not clear for which parts of the county this plan will take place at first. They made it evident that this will be a slow and gradual process until 2020. There will be an inequality of coverage for the Wichita- Sedgwick County while some of its residents advance technologically and others stay behind with wired phones. This vagueness in the plan goes well with Gaventa’s view on power being that the purpose of power is to prevent groups from participating in the decision making processes while obtaining the passive agreement of these marginalized groups. This Master Plan is also an example of the second dimension of power, especially by selecting specific questions from the community and then expanding on only those questions.
In conclusion, the Wireless Communication Plan of the Wichita-Sedgwick County Metropolitan Area Planning Department is a comprehensive plan expanding on the needs of a community, focused on growth, and flexible by the allowance of changes. It is a plan designed to move the community forward with the times by 2020. However, we live in an age that is ever changing. There is real possibility that by 2020 wireless communication will evolve into something even more complex as soon as this plan has just finished being implemented.