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Wireless Communication System Towers

Wireless Communication System Towers

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Published by Saibal Ray

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Published by: Saibal Ray on Aug 06, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 NetPro Certification Courseware for NetPro Certified Telecom Engineer – N.C.T.E
Wireless Communication System Towers
According to the FCQ there were 500,000 antenna structures nationwide as of January1995. With the buildout of PCS services since 1996, this number has probably increasedsignificantly.There are three basic types of tower available for erection at a cell site: monopoletowers, freestanding towers (also known as self-supporting or lattice" towers), andguyed towers. The type of tower that is actually installed at any given cell base stationmay be dictated by company policies, operational needs (such as a minimum tower height), or local zoning restrictions. Each choice in tower design has advantages anddisadvantages that must be weighed against its intended use.Tower design and construction methods are predicated on the tower's purpose, location,average weather conditions at the site, projected load, and future expansion needs. With proper research and commonsense planning, a properly constructed and maintainedtower can last for decades. How much space a tower structure will occupy is determined by the type of tower its maximum height, and its support design.
In the wireless industry towers may be used not only for mounting base stationantennas, but also for mounting microwave antennas. The microwave antennas (dishes)are used in a wireless carrier's fixed network. The practice of deploying extensivemicrowave radio systems for the fixed network usually depends on the particular wireless carrier.Local municipalities are becoming much more stringent in approving tower locations. Insome communities (usually urban areas), wireless carriers sometimes meet with verystiff resistance when attempting to install cell base stations with unsightly" towers.When building cell base stations, the goal when determining tower heights is to getabove the ground clutter (trees and buildings). Tower height depends on how many cellsites a carrier installs overall, taking into account frequency reuse. The minimum heightdepends on the area in question (i.e., the overall height of the ground clutter) and theextent of the territory you want to cover.
Site Survey
Many of the factors that are used as input in a site survey are simply common sense.When conducting a site survey for a communications tower, a wireless carrier includesall the applicable criteria that were decided upon concerning cell placement in general.For example, the carrier takes into account the geographic area to be covered andwhether land for the cell base station can be obtained at a reasonable price (lease or own). The site for any type of communications tower should be level and,
easilyaccessible by a semi-tractor trailer and a heavy-duty crane.
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After a location is selected for a cell base station, a contractor is chosen to erect thetower. The next step in the tower construction process is the evaluation of the proposedlocation. It is the responsibility of the party erecting the tower to research deedrestrictions and zoning regulations in order to avoid conflict with neighboring propertyowners and any local and state agencies.The tower site should also be free of overhead obstructions such as power lines andtrees, and the foundation area should be void of utility lines or pipes. The preferred siteshould undergo a comprehensive soil analysis to determine whether the ground willadequately support the structure and what type of grounding system will be required tomeet grounding standards. A soil engineer who is familiar with tower and foundationconstruction should conduct soil testing. Testing procedures should encompass multiplegeological core samples from across the site. Detailed soil analysis will weed outundesirable locations such as all-rock terrain, swampy or sandy areas, or even old, plowed-under farm fields. Soil testing should also be done to determine if there is anytoxic waste on the site. If a wireless carrier purchases the site and toxic waste is foundafterward, the new owner (the carrier) must pay to have the waste cleaned up.
The site selection project manager for one wireless carrier did
do thoroughsoil testing at a proposed location for a cell site before he purchased the land. Onceexcavation for the cement pads for the shelter and tower had begun, it was discoveredthat the site was a plowed over onion field. During the remainder of the construction phase, the workers had to wear gas masks. A much deeper hole also had to be excavatedfor the cement pads, resulting in a much higher overall cost to build that particular cellsite.When necessary, helicopters or large tracked vehicles have been used to transport cellsite buildings and towers to remote site locations.
Monopole Towers
Monopole towers are constructed of tapered tubes that fit together symmetrically, andare simply stacked one section on top of another. Older versions of the monopole tower (and some newer versions) use 40-ft tube sections. The base of the monopole is boltedonto concrete pads, and no support cables are required. Tower construction companiesuse giant augers around 8 ft in diameter to drill deep into the ground to create the holethat concrete is poured into, which forms the base of the tower. The bottom of themonopole tower is then bolted to this concrete base. Depending on soil conditions atany given location, the hole that is drilled could be anywhere from 8 to 40 ft deep.Monopole towers are predominantly located in urban areas, and are usually installed for aesthetic purposes. These towers are usually not more than 150 ft tall, but can reachheights of 250 ft. Of all the tower types, they have the smallest physical footprint from asize perspective.
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Monopole Tower Advantages
Monopole towers are the most aesthetic of the available types of tower and require theleast amount of land area for installation. Of the three tower types, these towers are theeasiest to get through zoning hearings because of their less offensive" appearance.
Some municipalities have been known to insist that wireless carriers paintmonopole towers a sky-blue color. The thinking is that the tower will then blend in withthe sky. In reality, this strategy may make the tower stand out even more starkly againstthe landscape and the horizon.Figure: Monopole tower.To overcome possible opposition of communities to tower erection, some manufacturersoffer monopole towers that are disguised as trees, complete with fake trunks, fake branches, and fake leaves. Monopole towers can also be disguised as light poles(parking lot lighting). These towers are much more expensive than a normal monopoletower. To date, pine and palm tree towers have been designed and marketed. However,although these types of towers make it a little easier for wireless carriers to gaincommunity acceptance of tower construction, there are times when they are still out of  place. There is an instance of a wireless carrier that installed a fake4ree monopole in themiddle of a forest. However, the average tree height of the forest was 100 ft, while thefake-tree tower was 140 ft tall. Thus, the fake-tree tower still looked out of place, and of course it never dr6pped one leaf in autumn.

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