Cellular infrastructure has helped our society accomplish amazing things, but cell towers are not always the nicest thing to look at. Since the advent of widespread cellular technology in the early 2000s, cell tower concealment has become a necessary component of our national infrastructure. Now, cellular companies are tasked with finding ways to disguise 5G towers.
From coast to coast, there are thousands of cell towers disguised as trees with estimates that more than 350 concealed towers are built per year. Now, with the rapid buildout of 5G across the country, concealment methods are changing as a matter of necessity.
The Difference Between 4G and 5G Technology
Cellular equipment is synonymous with gigantic, 100-foot-tall cell towers that extend across the skyline. 4G technology and its older siblings, 3G and 2G, use this type of infrastructure. Given their size and their penchant for disrupting a beautiful landscape, especially in remote, rural areas where cell coverage is hard to come by, companies that specialize in tower concealment have had to get creative over the years. The Northeast and Northwest disguise towers as pine trees. In the Southwest, cacti. Florida designs them like palm trees.
Tactics like these are well-suited to bulky 4G technology, but 5G equipment is very different from previous wireless buildouts. 5G infrastructure uses high-band mmWave signals. Unlike its 4G predecessor, 5G has trouble penetrating objects including the plastic and wood housing used in typical concealment solutions. 5G signals are also not as far-reaching as 4G. They require more towers placed lower to the ground in order to maintain reliability.
5G equipment requires different concealment methods in order to blend into its environment. So how are industry professionals rising to meet the challenge?
Disguise 5G Equipment in Public Spaces
Smart cities powered by the internet of things (IoT) are central to America’s future. They also require high bandwidth and a vast amount of data transfer to work. From asset management to power grid automation to self-driving cars, 5G in our urban centers will change the fabric of American life. That means that 5G infrastructure has to be located close to the applications it serves while remaining inconspicuous.
Out-of-Sight Placement in Cities
Innovative tower concealment companies have found ways to integrate emerging 5G technology directly into the urban landscape. Architecture plays a key role. You’ll often find 5G wireless equipment embedded in existing architecture such as steeples, clock towers, billboards, or even rooftops. That way, the equipment stays adjacent to the end-user while remaining safely out of sight.
5G works best as an edge technology. Companies deploy it as close to the end-user as possible. It’s therefore preferable to integrate and disguise 5G equipment at street level whenever possible. Tower concealment companies have found some ingenious ways to disguise 5G equipment at ground level as part of the urban terrain. Streetlights and street signs provide the optimal placement for 5G’s powerful-but-short-range tech. This slightly elevated location provides the device with a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area that’s relatively free of objects that might impede signals from the millimeter-wave spectrum.
Bus stop architecture is another place you’ll commonly find 5G buildout. Covered bus stops and other street furniture provide a perfect and unobtrusive vantage point for signal-generating devices. Although less common, you might even find 5G boxes literally at ground level —embedded in manhole covers or even the bottom of poles. Given that 5G equipment is typically the size of a pizza box, it is easy to hide in numerous everyday locations.
Building Towards the Future
The applications for 5G technology are limitless. Capable of transferring immense amounts of data, 5G network buildout will power smart solutions across America’s cities. With its relatively diminutive size, signal-generating devices are easier to hide than past technology and generally unobtrusive.
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