Small cell solutions have become more popular recently as a way of expanding coverage and increasing network capacity. And it’s easy to see why. SCS—as their name implies—are smaller than traditional towers or rooftop installations. In fact, nodes are often inconspicuously installed on existing right-of-way infrastructure like street signs, telephone poles, or streetlights. They can also be used to increase voice and data capacity indoors or at places where large groups of people congregate, like stadiums, theme parks, or universities. In addition to its smaller size and lower power, each SCS node also covers a smaller area than a traditional cell site. While that may not seem like a benefit, what it actually means is that by using multiple nodes, SCS can deliver more capacity to the same geographic area than one traditional tower would normally cover. That means a better overall experience for wireless users in the area. For data transfers, more nodes, closer to the ground, also increase the likelihood that you’ll get a direct line of sight from your phone to the node. Once that’s established, your data is then transported from the node to your wireless carrier’s network through our lightning-fast fiber optic cable.
- Flexible: Remote SCS locations are connected to a central hub by fiber optic cables. That means that as technology changes, electronics at the remote location can easily be upgraded to the latest technology by reusing the fiber network that is already in place.
- Visually appealing: SCS locations are easy to hide and provide the least visually intrusive type of wireless infrastructure solution in neighborhoods, historical districts, and other areas where a large tower isn’t a feasible solution.
- Shared: SCS support multiple carriers—eliminating redundant infrastructure.
What’s the difference between towers and small cells?
Both towers and small cells play an important role in delivering the wireless services you depend on. While they serve similar functions, they are different in several very important ways.
Small cell solutions networks (SCS) are made up of small, discreet nodes that sit closer to the ground. It’s easy to walk right by them and not even notice. They’re often attached to utility poles, signposts, or streetlights.
A single cell tower uses a lot of power to cover a large geographic area, while SCS networks use several low-powered nodes, placed closer together to cover the same area.
Since small cells use multiple nodes, you’re more likely to get a direct line of site to an antenna, which is better for fast data speeds.
A fiber-connected SCS network is the most efficient use of bandwidth and radio spectrum. This is important in high-density areas where a single tower would be limited in the number of simultaneous connections it could accommodate.
While both towers and SCS networks are important, the right solution for your community depends on your unique needs and circumstances. Often times, the answer is both.
What should you expect?
Is an SCS installation happening in your neighborhood? Congratulations. Your voice and data services are about to get noticeably better—in the most unnoticeable way possible. Here are the typical steps that happen to get it up and running:
- 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 SCS that support the carriers’ assessment. 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: Construction managers oversee the project and ensure safe and proper installation.