Philadelphia’s large population, tourism industry, and proximity to other major metro areas created a need for a shareable, high-performing wireless infrastructure that could support a variety of innovative voice and data services for local residents and handle frequent surges in traffic from visitors.

The new network also had to adhere to the city’s requirements, including preserving the surroundings of its historic district. Traditional wireless infrastructure solutions were not available to meet all of these needs.


  • Surges in wireless traffic
  • Growing wireless user base, including residents and visitors
  • Demand for new and emerging smartphone-based wireless services

Requirements related to the city’s historic district Crown Castle deployed a small cell solution with hundreds of nodes that enabled wireless service providers (WSPs) to add capacity needed to handle a growing wireless user base, significant traffic surges, and the addition of new services.

Crown Castle’s small cell solutions enable WSPs to deliver high-quality wireless access for visitors, residents, and businesses of Philadelphia, offering enhanced voice quality, faster file transfer rates, and the ability to support video. The network uses strategically placed fiber-optic-fed nodes that blend with the historic city’s surroundings.

Crown Castle worked with the local electric company and surrounding municipalities to install small cell antennas at the top of wooden utility poles. Together, Crown Castle and WSP engineers worked to predict traffic and place small cell antennas in high-traffic locations and leverage complementing macrocell sites for the placement of WSP equipment in low-traffic locations.

Crown Castle is continuing to expand service by enlarging the small cell network, moving out from the basic metro area to outlying townships and across the river into New Jersey communities.

Small Cell Architecture Benefits

  • Small cell solutions (SCS) enable WSPs to deliver targeted capacity. When used in conjunction with the macrocell network, the smaller footprint architecture can provide these benefits:
  • To support growing bandwidth demands, networks can be reconfigured easily, with most work being performed at the central hub site
  • Transmission speeds are enhanced by the proximity of the device to the small cell node
  • WSPs are able to provide targeted coverage to heavy concentrations of users
  • Fiber-fed network has virtually unlimited capacity, which can be expanded to support future WSP needs

Download a PDF of this project.