Small Cell Telecommunications Sites

Is your community a candidate?

Since the deployment of 4G, SEH has been working with communities to better understand the implications of follow-up technology upgrades associated with cellular providers’ (Tenant) sites. These upgrades have primarily been in the form of new technology antennas and additional remote radio heads (RRU’s). Most recently, Tenant upgrades have centered on the development of fiber optic components installed on existing macro sites (i.e. water towers and monopoles) to improve telecommunications speed and capacity (4G).

Over the past few months, many cities have been contacted by companies expressing interest in their community for Small Cell site development, associated with 5G technology. Small Cell sites represent the next technology upgrade for the cellular providers. These sites are needed to support cellular coverage within a macro site cell area that has high coverage needs or poor macro site coverage. The location of these sites is typically in a downtown area with taller buildings and a large concentration of businesses and special events traffic, or to support additional technologies.

It is essential that communities fully evaluate the needs of all local and regional cellular providers and to review, or create as necessary, policies and standards that will accommodate all vested parties.

Small Cell site technology consists of a small radio unit and an antenna that is directly linked to the local macro site by fiber optics. The components are small enough that the focus of installation has been in the utility right-of-way. By design, installation of Small Cell sites have been linked to placement/incorporation onto power poles, street lamp poles, and street lights. The concept is that the fiber needed for linking to the macro site will be located within the utility right-of-way, so they have one part of the build already available.

The power required for the radios, which are small enough to fit inside of some lamp pole configurations, is usually supplied by the City or utility and negotiated as part of any agreement. It has been touted by the industry that a Small Cell site takes as much energy to operate as a 120 watt light bulb.

SEH recommends a broad deliberation of all the issues and opportunities that pertain to the development of Small Cell sites in your community.

It should be noted that the number of Small Cell sites needed in a specific area is unknown or might be state statued regulated. Further, that the need will change as technology and cellular demand continues to grow. It is important to communicate with your electrical supplier as they may be directly approached for Small Cell site deployment. The objective is consistency, which will be critical in order to keep utility right of ways clean and orderly.

In addition, it is important to note that while all cellular providers are planning to use this technology, there is a divergence of views on how extensive current deployment should be. Some cellular providers will be using this platform as the core of their build out, while others believe that the existing technology for Small Cells may not perform effectively. These cellular providers will focus on making their existing sites perform better with equipment upgrades until such time that newer technology becomes available.  

SEH has been at the forefront of Telecommunications for more than 20 years. Our telecommunications experts bring extensive depth and breadth of diverse industry experience. Contact the SEH telecommunications team with any questions or concerns, and/or to schedule a meeting to discuss further the deployment of Small Cell sites.

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