Imagine 56,000 university students and staff. Add thousands of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, and put them all into an area less than 1/10th of a square mile—all using their smartphones. This is the Oakland neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA.

Project Overview

The Oakland neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA, is an education, healthcare, and cultural hub, and residents here demand high-speed wireless data to study, work, and live their lives. But as smartphones became more prevalent, and data usage increased, the existing infrastructure couldn’t keep up with the growth of demand. Crown Castle was brought in to find a solution that met the needs of the community, without disrupting their lives and while improving the aesthetics of the neighborhood.


The Oakland neighborhood is densely populated, with lots of pedestrian traffic. This created several challenges that had to be addressed:

  • The solution had to be a targeted one, but also provide adequate capacity. Existing infrastructure provided sufficient coverage, but couldn’t handle the wireless demand.
  • In order to keep roads and walkways clear, no new equipment could be installed in the public right-of-way.
  • The solution would have to fit into and preserve the current aesthetics of the neighborhood—taking advantage of underground infrastructure to deploy fiber.
  • Any work needed to go through several layers of approval.
  • Wireless carriers required a scalable turnkey solution.


To meet the high, concentrated data demands of the neighborhood, we installed fiber-fed small cell solutions (SCS). We connected the network to a hub at an existing macro site in the neighborhood—eliminating the need to install new equipment. New streetlights allowed us to hide the nodes from public view and add to the aesthetics of the neighborhood. This was especially important near historical sites, where it was necessary to win the approval of the City’s Public Works Department and Arts Commission. The entire project was completed at night and during off-peak hours in order to minimize disruption to the neighborhood. In the end, the only thing residents noticed was the attractive new streetlights—and, of course, their improved wireless service.

SCS installed on a streetlight.

Workers in action, installing fiber to connect to SCS.

News about this project.

To learn more, download the case study.