In the heart of Silicon Valley, tech is king. But for many, one essential part of the experience was missing - a reliable wireless signal. Everywhere you look in downtown Palo Alto, CA, tech-savvy people are using smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

Project Overview

The steadily increasing use of HD video, data-hungry apps, and streaming music was outpacing the existing wireless infrastructure's ability to meet the demand. Crown Castle was brought in to find an infrastructure solution that would bring much-needed coverage and capacity improvements to the downtown Palo Alto area. 


Downtown Palo Alto is a high-tech, high-traffic area filled with outdoor spaces, restaurants, small businesses, and many popular shops. It also sits at the entrance of Stanford University. Meeting the demands of all the wireless customers that a place like this attracts came with several challeges:

  • The scope and size of the project made getting approvals especially challenging and required a cooperative partnership with city officials across different departments.
  • The unique mix of residents, students, families, and business people required careful consideration of the various needs and interests of all parties.
  • Residents and city officials wanted to ensure that the installation didn't distract from the unique character and aesthetics of the downtown area.


In a place like Palo Alto, where both capacity and aesthetics are top concerns, a small cell solutions (SCS) network was an ideal answer. To get the necessary approvals, we collaborated with city officials and coordinated between departments that had differing and sometimes competing interests and requirements. This flexible approach allowed us to deliver a network that satisfied the needs of six different agencies and can accommodate multiple carriers through 19 small cell sites. To blend in with the aesthetics of the area, we installed small, discreet nodes in the public right-of-way on existing streetlights. We also came up with an innovative solution to hide our ground equipment - it's disguised inside boxes that look like green service mailboxes. The new network has finally brought downtown Palo Alto's wireless service up to par with the rest of the city's technology. In fact, it's been such a success that we're already working on an expansion project nearby. 

To learn more, download the case study