April 6, 2017
Unlike the macro towers of yesteryear that could be placed on a tower or hill — out of sight and out of mind (in theory, at least) — today’s small cells are located where users are: close to the ground and in the middle of everything. They’re in people’s front yards (or backyards), exactly where they need to be to function best.
And herein lies a problem. In the worldwide rush to implement the 5G networks that everyone wants and needs, neighborhoods and sometimes entire communities have been stuck with unattractive small cell deployments that vary from street to street and even from block to block.
No one disputes the need for small cells to create smart cities or smart cells’ ability to attract businesses to a community. The problem is that today’s wireless industry has no set standards for small cells. Thus, in many cases, ugly or poorly sited installations have become the status quo. I compare it with the Wild West, where it was every man — or in this case, carrier or community — for himself. Or as I like to describe it: unchecked, unplanned chaos.
Here are a few ways I’ve heard others describe small cell installations:
· Intrusive, 30-foot-tall poles with large, external equipment cabinets installed directly in front of an iconic local landmark or scenic overlook
· Butt ugly
· Hulking, eyesore installations with antenna equipment that show complete disregard for neighborhood character and city aesthetics
· Ugly, naked poles
· Simply ugly
There’s been such a race to implement small cells over the last few years that aesthetics have taken a backseat. Municipalities, pressured by the government, businesses and others to provide 5G, and do it quickly, have settled for lackluster installations. Some of these have resulted in “not in my front yard” ordinances and litigation, similar to what we saw with macro cell towers a few decades ago.
But, as I tell municipal leaders and others I interact with: You have a choice, and there’s a better way.
That’s the reason I created nepsa solutions last year after spending decades in wireless technology and building thousands of cell sites. Our goal is to create smart cities by improving relationships between wireless carriers and municipalities that frequently find themselves at odds with one another. We provide tools, resources and knowledge to integrate small cell wireless technology into everyday lives in beneficial, nondisruptive ways.
No Unsightly Towers
One way we’re doing this is by offering a small cell installation that’s unlike anything else in the industry. In other words: no unsightly towers.
We call our product the KitstiK small cell wireless infrastructure solution because it comes as a kit that we ship direct to customers, ready for easy deployment. The look is a clean one, requiring no boxes, cabinets or cables on the outside. The product is made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic, so it looks good for decades without corroding, rusting or rotting. It’s fire-resistant and impervious to damage by birds, insects and water.
Unlike traditional products made of wood, steel or concrete, the patent-pending KitstiK small cell wireless infrastructure solution is manufactured without toxic chemicals. It has a telescoping feature, and it’s competitively priced.
Probably the best feature of the KitstiK small cell wireless infrastructure solution is that it’s available in custom designs to meet the special needs of areas such as historical districts, arts districts, gaslight districts, waterfronts and other residential enclaves.
When we created nepsa solutions, we heard from community leaders that historic preservation is an important and growing concern. Municipalities are looking to differentiate themselves as a way to compete for residents, business and revenue, while maintaining the historic and authentic appearance that often defines what they are.
With that in mind, we partnered with Sternberg Lighting, a designer and manufacturer of decorative street lighting and architectural street furniture since 1923. The partnership extended our ability to provide a one-stop, custom solution for mobile network operators and municipalities that require design and fabrication skills to install small cell infrastructure that meets the most stringent historical requirements.
Sternberg’s decorative street lighting and architectural products have a stellar reputation among public works officials in state and local municipalities across the country. They’re used in streetscapes, downtown revitalization projects, parks, train stations, shopping centers, golf courses, hotels, colleges, banks and funeral homes.
With Sternberg, we’re designing a small cell wireless infrastructure solution fitted with historically accurate lighting for communities on the East Coast, where architectural significance is of great concern. A leading provider of distributed networks has contracted with us to create more than 40 installations in two lighting styles, which is scheduled for deployment later this year.
The word is just now spreading. Most people we encounter aren’t aware that a product like ours exists, and feedback has been positive. It addresses the problem of ugly, inconsistent infrastructure by providing a consistent, aesthetically pleasing look for every deployment.
We also have custom solutions for other needs, such as public safety and environmental technology for the internet of things.
Our other offerings include fixed pricing; help with navigating the zoning and permit processes; cutting-edge logistics; online ordering and delivery; full-service, licensed professional engineers; and project and construction management.
We have long-term relationships with major telecom and utilities suppliers, industry knowledge and expertise, plus the financial strength to facilitate rapid deployment and to create smart cities.
Communities view small cell wireless more positively when they understand that installations can look good, that they can all look the same, and that everyone can benefit in a myriad of ways, both immediately and via the smart city of the future.
David A. Wigdahl is president and founder of nepsa solutions, which helps municipalities and mobile network operators execute cost-effective, aesthetically pleasing smart city solutions. Visit www.nepsa.com. © 2017 nepsa solutions LLC. All rights reserved.