IT’S A TREE, IT’S A BARN, IT’S A…CELL TOWER?
Every day, cell phones are becoming more and more important to the average American lifestyle. Ever-expanding, new technologies have allowed cell phone capabilities to reach greater heights every year.
Do you need to make a dinner reservation? Search the web from your phone for the restaurant’s number and call to reserve your spot. Do you need directions to get there? Go to your GPS navigation app and plug in the address. We become more dependent on our mobile phones each and every day, so nothing
is more frustrating than getting stuck in an area with no signal. For this reason, carriers (like AT&T and Verizon Wireless) are always investigating potential wireless communication sites to improve your coverage.
Cellular sites come in many different forms. You may have seen tall monopoles or self-support steel structures with multiple antennas for various carriers mounted at different heights. Or perhaps you’ve seen these cell antennas mounted around the top of a water tower in a nearby town. Maybe you’ve seen antennas mounted to the top of a building facade or on the rooftop of a tall building. Cell sites are everywhere and can be very unique in style. However, with every tower that is erected and every antenna that is mounted, it is becoming increasingly harder to get these new sites to pass through county and city zoning departments. In order to approve a new cell tower, some departments will make you prove that there is no alternative solution to the coverage gaps. For example, they often make you search for existing towers or structures in the area that may have a “vacancy” for an extra antenna on the tower. Town residents and city officials agree that these cell towers are not always aesthetically pleasing. As a result, carriers are starting to take a more creative approach to the design of their sites.
Stealth, or stealth site, is used to described any antenna or tower that makes an attempt to hide its unappealing appearance. A common approach to ‘stealth-ing’ a tower is to use a “Monopine” tower. These towers are built like a typical monopole, but are disguised to look like tall trees. They are painted tree bark brown, sometimes given a texture, and have prosthetic branches protruding from all angles. Another common way to successively stealth a site is to use a flagpole as a visual shield around your antennas. The mast of the flagpole can actually house the antennas, keeping them completely out of site (and out of mind).
Now let’s take a look at some more unique stealth site designs. The photos below shows a variety of resourceful designs. Can you find the antennas that are hidden at each of these sites? If not, kudos to the designers for doing such a spectacular job!
About James Marooney, PE
James Marooney, PE, is a Regional Leader for Wireless Services in Washington D.C. at Foresite Group. He graduated from University of Maryland with his Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and a minor in Project Management. James enjoys working with a communicative team in order to get the job done on time. He has a special interest in working with a variety of carriers, especially learning how each carrier implements their systems and methods to complete a job.