Alternatives to towers: Wi-Fi and small cells
New York is preparing to convert its payphone booths to free public Wi-Fi hot spots that will be supported by advertising revenue. According to the consortium that is developing the city Wi-Fi network, it will be roughly 20-times faster than the average home Wi-Fi hot spot.
“It’s just too expensive to keep going with macro base stations,” said analyst Joe Madden of Mobile Experts, who is predicting that New York will be the next city to see major small cell deployments.
Crown Castle CEO Ben Moreland said earlier this year that while Verizon Wireless has been the most aggressive carrier to date when it comes to deploying outdoor distributed antenna systems and small cells, he believes all four major carriers will eventually densify their networks with small cells.
Between the upgrading of existing systems and the licencing of new carriers, the rooftop landscape of Toronto, Canada is changing rapidly as new antennae are added daily. While TreeHugger has discussed the question of cell phone safety many times, we are usually talking about the phone itself, where users have some control, rather than the base stations, where residents in apartment buildings with base stations on the roof do not. Is this exposure dangerous? A recent installation raises some questions.
To satisfy the rapidly growing demand for wireless broadband, wireless carriers are aggressively expanding their network capacity. In addition, a number of municipalities are moving forward with Smart City initiatives, accelerated plans for autonomous vehicles and a growing list of IoT (Internet of Things) products and applications.
These initiatives continue to add to the demand for more wireless network capacity.
The best solution is to deploy small cells and distributed antenna systems (DAS). While the equipment for these sites is smaller and less obtrusive, they must be deployed more densely – i.e.: more locations – to function effectively.
House Bill 2131
The permitting, construction, modification, maintenance and operation of wireless facilities are critical to ensuring that all citizens in the state have true access to broadband and other advanced technology and information… these facilities are critical to ensuring that businesses and schools throughout the state to remain competitive in the global economy.
This bill was another step in a multi-year process by the federal government designed to promote the prompt deployment of small cells and distributed antenna systems (DAS) by significantly limiting local authority. The bill provides that municipalities cannot require any zoning or other approval, consent, permit or otherwise “prohibit or restrain” the deployment of wireless sites.
Municipalities still possess rights over the placement, aesthetics, construction, modification and maintenance of the sites. But, they are no longer allowed to prohibit wireless sites based on the outdated guidelines from the past, i.e.: moratoriums. In addition, they must review and act upon a siting application within 60, 90 or 150 days depending on the siting scenario and/or configuration.