It’s likely that a wireless tower is part of your daily landscape, whether seen from the highway or cleverly disguised as a tree at the back of your neighborhood. Though we tend to drive right past them without much notice, these towers and the equipment they hold are the key to how we send and receive information in our digital society. So, it makes sense that proper tower maintenance is a crucial part of the wireless industry. When a wireless carrier wants to add an antenna to an existing tower or change the tower’s equipment, they need to be sure the tower can support what they have planned. This is where wireless technicians like myself come into play as we evaluate a tower’s structure and existing conditions to ensure it meets the needs of our clients.
Our industry has standardized codes (such as TIA-222 Rev G and, recently, Rev H) that govern how a tower is designed and analyzed. TIA-222-H also includes industry standards for tower maintenance, modification, and fabrication. Before a carrier upgrades equipment on a tower or places new equipment, we need to ensure the information we have on that tower is up to date and meets these codes. If it’s been several years since someone climbed the tower to examine existing conditions, it’s always smart to do this again and ensure we have the most accurate information, especially as codes are updated.
Tower climbing is exactly what it sounds like – someone actually climbs the tower to gather the necessary information for a project. If you’ve ever seen someone climb the pegs sticking out of a utility pole, then you’ve essentially seen what a tower climber does. Climbers are looking for any of the following: structural configuration of the tower itself (called tower mapping), structural configuration of an equipment mount (called mount mapping) or noting what equipment is already mounted and where (tower/mount inventory). They then bring this information back to the team to determine if what is being proposed by the carrier will work for this specific tower or if modifications need to be made. For example, it could be that certain mounts need to be supplemented with additional steel to bring them up to code. Without these crucial modifications, a tower is at risk for failure. Imagine if heavy equipment was placed on a tower unable to accommodate that load and then the area is hit by an ice storm. The equipment, or possibly the tower itself, could yield under the additional stress. Just as you wouldn’t build a house without first looking over the conditions of the lot, our job is to ensure that the tower landscape is suitable to the proposed use and propose modifications if not.
Next time you’re scrolling your newsfeed on a device that fits in your pocket, take a second to consider the much larger equipment which makes that possible. Everything about our digital landscape is designed to feel effortless for the end user, but, naturally, that requires quite a bit of effort behind the scenes for carriers. Ensuring that wireless towers and equipment are primed for optimal performance is one way we help make sure your digital experience doesn’t miss a beat.
About David Jasper
David Jasper is a Project Manager for the Wireless Services Division of Foresite Group in Peachtree Corners, GA. He graduated from University of Georgia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Furnishing & Interiors. David enjoys the hands-on aspect of the telecommunications industry and is a certified tower climber. He has climbed over 150 towers as tall as 450’.