APart 2 | Example photos of the good, the bad and the downright ugly

>> Link Back to Main Article: 10 Key Issues for California Cities & Counties on the Challenges of Small Cells & “Not So Small Cells”

This section shows a variety of Small Cells. There are 5 main categories of deployment:

  1. Attached to existing wooden light or utility poles (link to sample design preferences guide).
  2. Attached to existing steel/concrete poles and replacements of concrete poles.
  3. Integrated poles with antennas and equipment mostly hidden inside the pole.
  4. Attachments of antennas to a pole and some or all of the equipment on the ground or underground.
  5. Attachments to, or inside of, bus shelters, kiosks, and billboards or underground (experimental).
Example Alpha: A poorly designed Sprint site, by Mobilitie (also using business names such as Interstate Transport and Broadband, NC Relay Technology and Networking, and The ______STATE NAME HERE____Utility Pole Authority) on an existing steel light pole in the City of Los Angeles. Though, to be fair it does not feature the large and noisy cabinets often seen with some Crown Castle deployments (for example) for other carriers. The RF warning sticker is too large and bright and should be placed closer to the UE relay unit and facing away from homes toward the street. The exposed cabling is unacceptable. The main transmit antenna at the very top of the pole should be shrouded, along with the stick holding it up, so it is a more graceful addition to the pole. The UE relay unit (round object near banner) should have the side fins shrouded (so it won’t overheat), and the AC distribution panel should be placed under the sidewalk in a vault (square box). Credit: celltowersites.com
Examples of large and ugly “oDAS XL” nodes. The one on the left is by Crown Castle for Verizon Wireless. It may not even comply with State safety rules (GO 95); based on discussions with PG&E. The hanging panel antennas should be replaced with a radome antenna (see examples further below). The photo on the right shows a poorly designed Charles cabinet that should not be placed on poles in nice areas or areas that aren’t nice. It features batteries and computers. The batteries should be moved to a separate pole in a slim cabinet about as wide as the pole (e.g. those made by TSI Power). The larger Ericsson RRUs (grey boxes) on the pole mounted back to back are “ok” but should be painted to match the pole. Ericsson folks should make a more plain solar shield. The extra boxes on the back of the pole should be rotated onto the same side of the pole (since the batteries will be moved to another pole nearby).
T-Mobile Small Cell. Two computers with antennas built in (other sites use an external antenna instead). The signal is then transmitted by cables running through the pole and under City streets through Pacific Gas & Electric owned conduit.
Small Cell on a steel light pole. Author recommended the use of brackets to place both of the guide signs already on the pole in front of the two equipment enclosures (mRRUs which are basically computers)
Pole-Top Mounted Antenna and equipment (computers, electric meter and disconnect switch) mounted on an existing utility (PG&E) owned wooden utility pole. The offset nature of the conduit pipe (on the right side of the pole) is disfavored and should be flush to the pole (actual installation was flush).
On wooden utility poles antennas are either mounted on top of the pole (prior image); or a side-arm extension midway up the pole (in the communications zone or “comm zone” where telephone/cable/fiber cables are attached). The design in this image is far less intrusive than other installations with hanging panel antennas (and associated visible brackets and cables). The flanged nature of the arm hides smaller equipment boxes and provides a more seameless design. Credit: Advance Sim for Extenet Systems
Breakdown of a Personal Wireless Services Facility (Small Cell) on an existing wooden utility pole (Northern California Joint Pole Association). This photo simulation features a disfavored electrical meter cabinet (bottom box) that is nearly twice as wide as the pole. Actual installs used a meter cabinet about as wide as the pole, though wireless metering (hockey puck sized antenna instead of an electric meter) is preferable.
Integrated Pole with Equipment and Antennas inside. The designs should likely be tweaked. For example, not using as skinny a cobra head light arm (left) that makes the width of the vertical pole more noticeable. The pole on the left appears out of scale with the building behind it; while the pole on the right (with some tweaks) appears more appropriate.
Enersphere ePole with antenna on top and equipment at the base. The large box at the base does not appear viable in most areas, but may be workable in a rural context with a wide right-of-way; if the pole is near mature trees, setback sufficiently from the road edge, and painted to match. Also, in this image the pole appears to hold up electric distribution wires too. The local electric utility may not easily allow for this type of replacement pole, based on their standards book (that can take a long time and a lot of effort to update).
A Phillips SmartPole with antennas inside the pole and equipment in the base. The design has its pros and cons. Especially given its width on narrow sidewalks (though their is an underground base option) and narrower streets. The GPS antenna at the top should be better integrated. Also, since this site replaced an existing light pole and has fiber running to it; some broadband advocates would tend to feel their should be a free public Wi-Fi system integrated as well….
Recently proposed Ercisson Zero Site Small Pole. This appears to be viable, though the Ericsson logo should be removed. In addition you would need to verify no additional equipment is required (electric meter, disconnect switch, GPS antenna)
Initial Crown Castle proposal with a poor panel antenna (3 of them actually) design on an existing utility pole. The revised design was much cleaner (see below).
An AT&T Mobility Small Cell on an existing utility pole in Oakland. Don’t let this happen to you.
Portland example. Don’t allow this! This is not a Small Cell. It’s a quasi-monopole.
Verizon proposal. The base of the antenna needs a shroud transition onto the existing pole. Cabling below mRRUs needs cleaner integration into the pole ( messy looking set of drip loops for 4 cables each). Emergency disconnect should be inside the same sidewalk location where you turn off power to the streetlight. Narrower flush mounting bracket should be used for the mRRUs. I have no idea what a SAR-O is (likely the required RF warning sticker)…
See caption above
An unrealistic and inappropriate proposal for a Verizon “Small Cell” on a nicely landscaped street in South Orange County. This is more of a quasi-macro than a Small Cell. The RBS cabinets on the left are the computers. A set of cabinets this large likely allows the carrier to serve every frequency with one system. The battery cabinets are for backup power (not required). The next box is the electric meter pedestal (can be replaced with wireless smart meter) and the the cabinet on the right is likely where fiber and power are converted.
Antenna on top of pole. Equipment is likely on the ground or underground.
This is a fairly tall integrated pole with the antenna up top and equipment in a customized enclosure near the banner midway up the pole. It can be customized to add a streetlight attachment arm as well. Credit: Enersphere.com
A Swiss Wireless Carrier placing cell antennas under special manholes (photo at top right). Courtesy of AGL Magazine June 2016. I doubt this is very effective in terms of data range and I’m concerned it would need an RF warning sticker on the lid as well.