Get to know the infrastructure your wireless world depends on.
Wireless technology has become an ever-present part of our lives. It’s transformed the way we interact with information, people, and businesses. As the nation's largest provider of shared wireless infrastructure, including cell towers, small cells, and rooftop antennas, we’re working to make sure your community has the necessary infrastructure to support the wireless services you depend on every day to stay in touch, be safe, and live your lives.
How our infrastructure benefits your community:
- Better connection: With the proper infrastructure in place, your wireless carrier can more easily expand coverage and give you more reliable service, faster data, and fewer “dead spots.”
- Safer community: In the unfortunate event of an accident, our infrastructure enables your call to go through quickly and gives police, firefighters, and other first responders access to the information and communications they need to determine your location and respond quickly.
- Business friendly: Businesses considering a move into your community need to know that the voice and data services they rely on to conduct business and attract customers is dependable.
- Convenience: Let’s face it. We like our mobile devices. We want them to work, and when they don’t, we get frustrated.
What is wireless infrastructure?
Wireless infrastructure is a term used to describe the equipment and structures that wireless carriers, first responders, and municipalities use to broadcast and receive wireless signals. These include cell towers, rooftop installations, small cell solutions, and the fiber optic cable that connects a carrier’s equipment to their network. Shared wireless infrastructure refers to wireless infrastructure that multiple carriers use simultaneously, or “share.” All of Crown Castle’s infrastructure is shared. This is a benefit for your community because it decreases the amount of infrastructure needed to provide the level of service, choice, and competition that’s most desirable for a healthy wireless market.
To learn more, download our community brochure.
Don’t we have enough wireless infrastructure?
You may wonder, with so much infrastructure already in place around the country, do we need more? Well, first consider that a single site is capable of supporting a finite number of simultaneous connections. Knowing that, now consider the following recent statistics on mobile usage:
We’re using apps, watching video, sending messages—occasionally, we even make phone calls. But this increased usage is maxing out carriers’ networks. It’s more necessary than ever for us to find new and innovative ways to increase our wireless capacity.
Right now, wireless infrastructure falls under two main categories:
- Macrocells:This is what most people are familiar with: it includes the big cell towers you see on the side of the road as well as rooftop installations on tall buildings.
- Small cell solutions (SCS):These use smaller antennas that sit closer to the ground and are less conspicuous. This provides a strong complement to macrocells—especially in dense urban areas or in places where people congregate, like universities, amusement parks, or stadiums. Learn more about Small Cell Solutions.
How does wireless service work?
You take out your phone, make a quick call, stick it back in your pocket, and don’t give it another thought. But what is actually going on? Well, the whole process actually starts before you ever pull your phone out. This is how a typical interaction with your wireless device works. The process is similar for SCS and macrocells (see above), but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll assume the cell site is a tower and that you’re making a voice call.
Even when you aren’t using your phone, it’s in constant communication with your wireless carrier’s nearest cell site. Your phone is basically saying to the wireless carrier’s network, “I’m right here if you need me.”
When you pull out your phone to make a call to a friend, your phone converts your voice into digital packets of information that are then transmitted through radio waves to the cell site.
The antenna on the cell site picks up the signal and routes it to nearby equipment owned by the wireless carrier.
A switch at the cell site then routes the signal to the carrier’s network through fiber optic cables.
The call is then routed through the publicly-switched telephone network to its destination.
If the destination is another cell phone, the signal is routed to the cell site that’s closest to your friend’s phone, which has also been in constant communication with its nearest cell site.
The process is then reversed with the signal going from the cell site to the destination phone where the digital packets are decoded on your friend’s phone back into sound that your friend hears through the phone’s speaker.
It seems like a lot when you look at it like this. And it is. But keep in mind that this process happens millions of times a second all across America. It’s so commonplace that we don’t even think about it. But none of it would be possible without the wireless infrastructure to support it.
Should I be worried about radio frequency emissions?
It’s a common concern. And it’s understandable. But even if you’re right next to a tower or node, cellular RF (radio frequency) output is significantly lower than what FCC guidelines permit. And at ground level, the RF levels are not significantly different from background signals in urban areas from things like TV and radio signals. For these reasons, most scientists agree that there are no adverse health effects from cellular signals.
To read more, visit the following links:
- American Cancer Society
A summary of American Cancer Society studies that have shown no link between cellular RF signals and cancer.
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
For more information on exposure guidelines and RF safety, click here.
- International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)
ICNIRP is composed of independent scientists from around the world with expertise in a wide variety of disciplines that study the possible adverse effects of RF exposure on human health and recommend safety standards.
- World Health Organization (WHO)
As part of its charter to protect public health, and in response to public concern, the World Health Organization established the International EMF (Electromagnetic fields) Project in 1996 to assess the scientific evidence of possible health effects of EMF in the frequency range from 0 to 300 GHz.