We're giving your community a wireless upgrade.
The last decade has seen a dramatic shift in the way we use wireless services. As the world prepares for new technologies like 5G, we’re continuing to stream videos on our phones, conduct business on our tablets, and connect to the internet on our watches. Wireless services have gone from a convenience to a necessity. To make sure communities like yours don’t get left behind, we’re working hard to upgrade infrastructure, add capacity, and make sure the services you rely on continue uninterrupted. See where we’re making upgrades.
We're not talking about cell towers.
Traditional cell towers still play an important role in delivering the wireless services you rely on. But the upgrades and expansions that are currently underway fall under a newer category of wireless infrastructure called small cell solutions (or SCS) networks. You can learn more about SCS here, but in a nutshell, think of small, inconspicuous antennas (or nodes) attached to poles that are about the height of a streetlight.
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:
Crown Castle is the nation’s largest provider of shared communications infrastructure—including cell towers, rooftop antennas, small cell solutions, and fiber optic networks. We work closely with wireless carriers, municipalities, utility companies, and landowners to make sure communities like yours have the infrastructure in place to support the data, technologies, and wireless services you rely on. We have a national footprint with a local presence in every major market in the US, helping us to respond to the individual needs of each community we serve.
No. We do not provide wireless services and are not licensed to provide wireless services. We lease space on our infrastructure to multiple wireless carriers who attach their own equipment and offer wireless services to their customers.
As we use our wireless devices for more data-intensive tasks like streaming video, social media, gaming, and more, network congestion is becoming an issue throughout the country. It’s not unlike cars trying to crowd onto a busy interstate. Adding new infrastructure is the equivalent of adding new lanes—it’s how we add capacity, and it gives all that extra data a place to go.
Small cells consist of small, low-powered antennas—sometimes called nodes—that sit closer to the ground. They’re connected by fiber optic cable and are designed to handle lots of data at high speeds. Since they’re often attached to existing infrastructure like streetlights and utility poles, they blend into their surroundings and preserve the aesthetics of their environment. While towers are still widely used, small cell solutions are often more practical in places where capacity is an issue, like dense, urban areas.
Towers are what most people think of when they think of wireless infrastructure. They’re tall, easy to spot, and serve an important role in delivering the wireless service you depend on—especially in more rural areas. Towers have the advantage of being able to provide coverage to a relatively large geographic area.
Small cells, as their name implies, are smaller. They’re usually no taller than a streetlight—in fact the nodes that make up a small cell solutions network are often attached to streetlights and utility poles. You’ve probably walked by them many times and not even noticed. Small cell solutions are most common in urban and suburban areas and use a network of fiber-connected nodes to boost speed and capacity or fill in gaps where your calls or data connection are more prone to drop.
The most common way that wireless carriers keep up with increasing wireless demand is through network densification—increasing capacity by creating new sectors and deploying more cell sites. Given the variety of geographies and population distributions throughout the country, carriers need to use both macro cells (cell towers or rooftop antennas on top of a tall building), and small cells (fiber-connected nodes). This all-of-the-above approach is called a heterogeneous network or HetNet.
Small cells come in a variety of different shapes, but they all have a few things in common. As their name implies, they’re small and inconspicuous. They’re usually attached to a pole that looks like—or often actually is—a streetlight. Alternatively, they can be attached to utility poles or other infrastructure in the public right of way. Small cells offer lots of flexibility in design and placement. Most people walk right by them and don't even notice.
The installation process varies from project to project. But here are the typical steps for most installations:
- Assessment: Carriers will choose locations based on the need for increased access or coverage—they consider the needs of local residents, business owners, and local support services like fire and police.
- Planning: Our engineers will plan small cell solutions (SCS) that support the carriers’ recommendations. During the planning phase, they’ll design a fiber network route and work with municipal planners to decide on the best engineering solution that meets the community’s needs while blending into the surrounding environment.
- Construction: Our construction managers oversee the project and ensure safe and proper installation.
Seventy percent of all 911 calls originate from wireless devices. Your community’s network upgrade will give you more reliable access to public safety and emergency services like 911, while giving police, firefighters, and other first-responders the mission-critical information they need.
Throughout the installation process, we work with jurisdictional authorities to address all questions, including health and safety matters. There is no evidence however, of any adverse effects from exposure to cellular signals. At ground level, cellular RF (radio frequency) levels are not significantly different from TV and radio signals, and fall well within FCC guidelines. For more information or links to reputable studies, visit the websites of the American Cancer Society, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), and the World Health Organization.
There are many factors that determine a home’s value, and it’s often difficult to quantify the effect of each. However, with the increased reliance on wireless broadband services, many homebuyers and renters are taking cell signal strength into account when considering where to live. In fact, a recent study indicated that 76% of Americans ranked mobile service as an important consideration when purchasing a home. So while no one can guarantee you that better wireless service will increase your home’s value, it won’t hurt to have it as a selling point.
No. Wireless carriers use our infrastructure to provide wireless coverage to your community—including enhanced broadband and data coverage. This does not, however, include Wi-Fi services.
The bars on your phone are an indicator of signal strength and coverage, which is one important factor that contributes to a good wireless experience. However, capacity—the amount of information or data that the network can carry—is not reflected in the bars you see on your phone. As wireless devices stream more video and consume more data, many wireless networks are constrained not by a lack of coverage, but by a lack of capacity. If you’ve ever dropped a call or lost your data connection while your phone showed full bars, you probably have adequate coverage, but not enough capacity. Installing a new small cell solutions network is one way we can add needed capacity and improve the experience for all wireless users.