Cell site aesthetics are equally as important as meeting technical requirements

Because 5G will require an unprecedented number of new cell sites, strategies around concealing and deploying aesthetically pleasing antennas and radios is becoming increasing critical. In fact, CommScope’s Director of Metro Cell Solutions Iris Troiano told RCR Wireless News that when it comes to network densification, a mobile solution’s aesthetics are just as important as its technical performance.

Q: How important are aesthetics when it comes to network densification. How is CommScope addressing balancing aesthetics with technical requirements and performance?

A: Aesthetics are important. They are equally as important as meeting the technical requirements. How we go about that is that we really leverage our deep knowledge on network infrastructure, from the RF and thermal standpoints, to ensure that how we are concealing radios in street furniture structures meet the aesthetics, while maintaining the tech integrity and performance of the solution.

The general landscape is meeting both jurisdictional, municipality and general population aesthetic requirements, while also meeting the technical requirements of the solution. There isn’t a one-fit solution that will work everywhere. Carriers have different radio requirements, municipalities have different aesthetic requirements, so when companies like CommScope look at product development and product evolution, we have to consider how we can accommodate both sets of requirements in a pretty broad set of solutions that are also modular, so that you can reach some type of standardization.

A lot has been written on small cell dens and that is needs to happen fast, and how to make it happen fast. And one of those ways is that the solution set has to be both broad and modular. So you can put solutions together for different requirements without having to develop whole new product lines over and over again.

Q: What are the different types of concealment designs and configurations that CommScope offers? Why might an operator select one over an another?

A: Generally speaking, we see four families of concealment solutions and it’s all based around where the radios are located on a structure. Starting at the top, we have top of the pole solutions, where you can house radios. This is at the top of the pole, right under the antenna. And carriers would like this solution because it limits any cable loss, especially when looking at your mid-band radios. That low loss characteristic is appealing.

Or you can have radio mounted somewhere in the middle of the pole in a side-mounted radio enclosure. These provide easier access for any maintenance while still being aesthetically concealed and out of the general reach of the public.

The last family are the bottom of the pole or integrated pole. These are pole replacements. You replace a light pole with a structure where are all of the radios are houses in the pole or in the base of a pole. Positives on this is that they’re highly concealed — you’re not mounting anything on the exterior of the structure — so you get a high aesthetic value.

Q: Does every carrier deploy all of these configurations and solutions depending on location? Or do they tend to stick to one or two configurations?

A: The solutions needed in a successful deployment of a small cell varies heavily depending on location. Nationwide, across jurisdiction. But even within a single city, they’re maybe more highly integrated aesthetic requirements in the downtown area, but further out of downtown, it’s more of a pole attachment, like a side mounted enclosure or pole top solution. All of the solutions are needed and used to meet densification requirements.

Q: Can you talk to me about small cells being integrated in smart city infrastructure, like smart poles?

A: Yeah, connected cities and small cells might start to overlap with each other, you know, the same structures. In our integrated poles where we have everything concealed lend themselves very well to outdoor small cells, but also smart cities, where you could have cameras, smart lighting, sensors that can be used by the city as well as they start to roll out their smart city initiatives.

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