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Judge Temporarily Blocks Mo. Cell Siting Law

A judge has issued an injunction against the Uniform Wireless Communications Infrastructure Deployment Act, which restricts localities from passing laws that discourage cell site development.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed HB331 into law on July 5, and on Aug. 23 several Missouri municipalities filed a lawsuit against the act and asked for a temporary restraining order (TRO), which was granted by the Circuit Court of Cole County until the lawsuit is decided.

The result of the lawsuit and the injunction may mean additional delays in the industry’s efforts to rapidly improve wireless services, as well as increasing costs, according to Curtis Holland, shareholder, Posinelli, and an officer of the Missouri Kansas Wireless Association.

“The court’s decision to issue the TRO enjoining HB 331 from taking effect was not unexpected, but is still disappointing,” he told AGL Bulletin. “The municipalities were at the table during the drafting of the legislation, and many changes were made to address their concerns. Their lawsuit is just another example of the obstructionist behavior — by some, not all — that the new law was meant to address.”

The law was designed to prohibit municipalities from analyzingthe cell site applicant’s business decisions, the availability of other potential locations for wireless site placement or the type of wireless infrastructure when evaluating a cell tower application. The measure outlawed requiring unnecessary environmental testing, charging extraordinary consultant fees and imposing surety requirements. Additionally, it codified the FCC’s 150-day new application, 90-day collocation shot clock.

“The industry does not expect special considerations but simply wants an equal playing field and to be treated the same as all other applicants,” Holland said. “We believe strongly that the court will ultimately uphold the new law. But in the meantime, Missouri residents, businesses and travelers to the state will continue to suffer while planned improvements to wireless network systems are further delayed.”

Enhanced Mounts Enter Market to Carry LTE

LTE equipment is not only a heavier weight for the tower to bear than its 3G predecessors, but it presents more surface area for increased wind loading. Additionally, new demands for fiber to the antenna (FTTA) are increasing the complexity of tower deployments and network upgrades.

The good news is new mounts are entering the market to accommodate the heft and complexity of the LTE era equipment.

One example of the next generation of mounts is the V-Frame Boom Gate, from Connect-It Wireless, which was engineered to handle today’s heavier loads.  At 181 MPH winds, the maximum combined load area for the new V-Frame is 7,945 square inches, according to Jim Schultz, founder and president of Connect-It Wireless.

“As the amount of material added to the tower increases, a mount is required that’s tough enough to handle the wind area loading,” he said. “And considering the max combined load weight is a solid 650 lbs., it’s a durable, heavy duty application that the new upgrades demand.”

The V-Frame adheres to building codes across the nation, such as the 2010 Florida Building Code, TIA-EIA-222-G-2, and A.S.C.E. 7-10.

Also in response to the rollout of 4G remote radio heads, Valmont/Site Pro 1 released the Ultra-Low Profile (ULP) Ridged T-Frame monopole mount.

The size and weight of the LTE equipment has led to a 25 percent increase in wind loading on the mounts, according Brandon Chapman, Valmont/Site Pro 1.

“A lot of T-arms were being sold for LTE systems, because they are economical compared with a platform mount,” Chapman said. “Through analysis of these mounts, I found that they were pushing their boundaries in terms of strength.”

T-arms are popular because of their price, but Chapman believed that what was needed for LTE antennas was the strength of a platform mount. He then set out to create a mount that would be economical like a T-arm and strong like a platform.

“I designed the ULP to have the cost of a T-arm with the strength of a platform. Twice the strength of a T-arm,” he said.

Valmont/Site Pro 1 analyzed the ULP for a 200-foot tower with a 90 MPH wind, using ANSI/TIA-222-G-2005. Four antenna loads were evenly spaced across each face of the mount, centered on the centerline of the mount. Based on the design criteria, the mount capacity is 5,400 pounds (170 square-feet).

The maximum normal force per antenna pipe is 450 pounds (14.1 square-feet) with a maximum tangential force of 450 pounds (14.1 square feet). The weight of each antenna was considered to be a maximum of 200 pounds. The mount will also support a nominal load of 250 pounds at two locations simultaneously (500 pounds total) to provide access for climbers.

Limiting the weight and wind loading of the mount itself were also factored into its design.

Remote Radio Deployments Present Fiber Optics Challenge

As carriers opt to deploy remote radio units, fiber-optic cables typically run up to the top of the tower to connect baseband equipment. This brings a new level of complexity for tower technicians. And the challenge strikes cell tower sites worldwide.

“It has become increasingly complex, time-consuming and expensive for operators to maintain existing cellular sites. Typically, the infrastructure had to be assembled on-site at the top of the tower, and the lack of a single tower top design standard has made each upgrade a challenging process,” Bill Walters, Commscope spokesman, told AGL Bulletin.

In Doha, Qatar, Commscope collaborated with an international communications provider, Ooredoo, to develop a factory-assembled tower-top base station remote radio, which was made according to a single global design standard.

“The aim of the tower top development is to create and maintain a network that is radio vendor agnostic and does not require significant on-site remote radio modifications for future upgrades,” Walters said.

The tower top solution will become Ooredoo’s standard cell site design across its markets in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, in line with the company’s network modernization strategy of upgrading or replacing 15,000 of its base stations.

Building on its partnership with Ooredoo in standardizing tower tops for cellular sites, CommScope is bringing a solution for enabling fiber-to-the-antenna site deployments to America.

“FTTA installation needs to be standardized, because when you have electronics at the tower top plus fiber optics, it gets more complicated, difficult to install and there is more chance for error for the installer,” Walters said. “So we started using a pre-assembly of the whole unit that goes on the tower top, including the base station antenna, mounting, the remote radio unit and the cabling.”

The FTTA Turnkey Solution, part of the Andrew portfolio of wireless solutions, is designed to standardize and simplify remote radio unit (RRU) installation, as well as accommodate multiple RF technologies and frequencies. The solution includes the Argus UltraBand multiport antennas; HELIAX FiberFeed hybrid fiber and power trunk cables; HELIAX SureFlex RF cable assemblies, cabinets, structural supports, connectors and assemblies.

The optional Andrew SiteRise offers pre-assembly and pre-testing of all RF equipment prior to hoisting up the tower.

AT&T Sues N.M. Village Over Tower Denial

AT&T Mobility has filed suit in the U.S. District Court of New Mexico against the Village of Corrales, N.M., claiming that it unlawfully denied a request to build a cell tower. The carrier had requested approval to build a 65-foot monopole with antennas camouflaged within a canister.

AT&T reported that it had a significant gap in coverage surrounding the site, where its LTE signal was degraded. The carrier also gave evidence that it had considered multiple locations before choosing the site.

Early in April, the Village’s Planning and Zoning Administrator recommended approval of AT&T’s request, but two weeks later the Planning and Zoning Commission denied the carrier’s special-use permit, which included a variance of the 26-foot height restriction. Later, it affirmed the decision upon appeal.

The Village asserted that the tower did not fit in with the area because of its rural nature. The tower would be “‘visually intrusive” of the rural residential, agricultural and open spaces, the Village asserted.

The Village also dismissed the idea that the area even needed AT&T’s broadband wireless service and said the carrier had not proven that it needed the tower to provide coverage.

“The applicants have offered no documentation for the necessity of the proposed location or height of the proposed telecommunications facility, other than RF justification, which is just hearsay and the bald assertion of ‘what is necessary,’ which is based on hearsay,” wrote the Village in its findings and conclusions on appeal.

AT&T said that because the proposed location is zoned commercial, the tower would be compatible with adjacent properties and that no evidence was provided to indicate that it would be inconsistent with the goals of the Village’s comprehensive plan.

“The site has long been zoned for commercial purposes and thus the adjacent properties have long had views of such commercial uses,” the carrier wrote. 

High Frequency Power Dividers

Ultra-broadband two-way power dividers up to 50 GHz are available from Pasternack Enterprises. The millimeter wave power dividers (also referred to as RF power splitters) used in fiber optic systems. Configurations of broadband power dividers include two with 2.92mm connectors, one of which is a low VSWR version. Both 2.92mm power dividers are capable of frequencies ranging from 10 GHz to 40 GHz and are rated to 10 watts maximum input power. The third option is a 2.4mm power divider capable of 10 GHz to 50 GHz and also has a power rating of 10 watts. All three, high-frequency power dividers are Wilkinson two-way designs utilizing a compact package that offers low insertion loss and phase stability across their broad operating range. The 40 GHz and 50 GHz power dividers have a maximum insertion loss of 1.5 dB and VSWR of 1.6. These ultra-broadband power dividers have a typical phase balance of 6 degrees and carry a maximum isolation rating of 15 dB. Each of the 2-way RF power dividers are RoHS compliant. www.pasternack.com

Smartphones: the Age of Gigabit Connectivity

By James Carlini, Certified Infrastructure Consultant

James Carlini will be a featured speaker at the AGL Regional Conference, Sept. 19, in Chicago


James Carlini

What good is a Ferrari if you can only drive it on side streets and alleys?  You need to have access to superhighways to really experience its performance and get what it was built for. Speed.

The same holds true with smartphones.  What good is some slick smartphone if you don’t have access to a communications superhighway with gigabit connectivity for instantaneous downloads?

Having lightning-fast speed for network connectivity is the latest status symbol.  More video-based applications that require big bandwidth are coming on-line. People are switching out to smart phones. Even in business, Blackberries are out, smart phones are in.

With 1 Gbps service, you can download something like a ninety-minute movie (which takes up about one gigabyte of storage) in less than ten seconds.  This speed is perfect for those using a lot of video-based applications.

What about wireless networks made up of Wi-Fi and DAS networks?  The next step is to see real gigabit connectivity from a wireless provider to those subscribers with their smart phones.

When Bandwidth is Not an Issue

Some have argued in the past about how gigabit speeds were unnecessary. They have always been proven wrong.  You will always find ways to utilize bandwidth, especially if you are using smart phones today.

Thirty years ago, network speeds for corporate applications were mostly around 2.4 Kbps and 4.8 Kbps. That was all on analog lines as well, not digital services.

“High speed” was considered to be 9.6 Kbps at the time, and the modems were about $7,000 – APIECE!

If you really had money, “new” 56 Kbps digital service was available – but only in certain cities across the United States.  Back in 1981, transmission facilities for corporations and their internal networks were still mostly analog.

Arguments for new applications always ended with, “Well, maybe we could do that but we just don’t have the bandwidth.”  Bandwidth was always the stumbling block that killed many applications before they left the feasibility stage.

When bandwidth is so bountiful that it becomes a non-issue, new applications will grow exponentially and provide very different benefits.  That is why some countries are very astute in upgrading their entire network infrastructure because they have made the strategic discovery that economic development equals broadband connectivity and broadband connectivity equals jobs in today’s global economy.

Having more bandwidth will accelerate the amount of applications that are feasible for customer service, social networking and so many other applications.

There will be an explosion of video-based applications that will be able to work because they will not be constrained by a lack of bandwidth.

You can see some of this explosion now with the increase in usage of smart phones.  As more people get on board with a smart phone, the networks are becoming utilized to a point where some network carriers are trying to stifle usage. Why would a carrier want to ration bandwidth if their networks could handle the increased usage?

It looks like the network carriers have not expanded their networks to handle all of this growth as well as provide high speeds for data transmission. This is not good when everyone is competing for global marketshare and having communications is such a new concept.  Even at sports venues like football stadiums and baseball fields, new Wi-Fi and DAS networks that were initially installed have been re-engineered and expanded to handle the unexpected traffic loads that were not expected in initial design concepts.

Where Networks Should be Headed

This is a time for real renovation and renaissance across the United States.  Chattanooga has set the standard when it comes to where other cities should be in aiming at: one gigabit per second subscriber access to the network.

Since 2012, South Korea has 1 Gbps access for subscribers is also leading the charge for true broadband connectivity (1 Gbps or above).

GOOGLE is working on gigabit networks for several cities here in the United States.  , Austin, Texas, Kansas City, Kansas (and Missouri) and Provo, Utah.  Funny how as soon as they announce they are going to do something, the incumbent phone company (AT&T) announced they are going to upgrade their aging infrastructure (as they did in Austin).

With all of this activity between GOOGLE and some of the incumbent phone companies, the trend is definitely to get to elevate network subscriber access to one gigabit per second.

With new announcements for September coming out of Apple, SONY, and SAMSUNG for their next phones, the network infrastructure has to keep up. The Ferrari of phones demand having Autobahn network access, if you really want to get to utilize their full potential.
Copyright 2013 – James Carlini