Broadband: cell tower alternative

RBC I The final hearing on the application for a cell tower use permit will be held Monday, Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. at the Fairfield Center. It is recommended that concerned individuals attend this hearing.
The ultimate goal of any wireless data system provider should be to deliver high speed, high capacity 4G wireless service to many wireless consumers in a local area. More than half of all wireless cell phone customers now have “smart phones” that require 4G service to operate at maximum effectiveness.
A proposal and application for a use-permit to erect a tall cellular tower to provide such services was filed in Rio Blanco County recently. However, what has not been discussed are better alternatives to a single point cell tower to reliably serve a given geographic footprint area (i.e. the city limits of Meeker and adjacent areas).
The newest technology being used along the front range and even rural areas, most recently in Vail is Microcell Distributed Antenna Systems (MDAS). This technology uses a series of multiple small antennas and transmitter/receivers that can be mounted on buildings and utility poles without being a distraction or interfering with scenic views.
Complete and reliable coverage of a given area, including building interiors, is possible with MDAS technology where a single point cell tower system is generally not as reliable. Moreover, if the single point cell tower cannot be connected via fiber optic cable, and must rely on radio links or wired connections to the main wireless network, speed and capacity may be lower (e.g., only 2G or 3G) which degrades and limits the effective high speed full capacity use of multiple smart phones.
Any wireless system can only support so many wireless users simultaneously using the system, and the more simultaneous users on a single point cell tower system, the more capacity is taxed and the lower the speed becomes. One user downloading a high definition movie can demand huge amounts of capacity, consequently reducing access speed for other users trying to use the same wireless network at the same time. Severe weather can also adversely affect signals from single point cell tower sites.
Therefore it is vitally important to have multiple MDAS sites working in tandem to serve designated polygons (or service areas) and reduce the load on any one MDAS site, thus increasing speed and capacity for all the MDAS sites.
MDAS sites can also be installed inside larger buildings such as schools and businesses that ensure smart phone reliability inside the building, and provides enhanced capacity and speed that may otherwise not be available from a single point cell tower site due to signal blockage from the concrete and steel construction of buildings and the longer distance to the cell tower site causing lowered signal strength.
MDAS systems are linked with fiber optic cable to each MDAS site giving it the fastest possible speed and highest capacity to serve a small geographic area with reliable 4G service.
Conversely, single point cell towers often fail to provide adequate coverage inside buildings or in “shadowed” areas where terrain obstructions or other natural or manmade structures are in the path of the signal from a single point cell tower. A more detailed description of MDAS techology and illustrations can be viewed at
An excellent reference for understanding broadband applications from a user perspective is telecommunications broadband consultant Frank Ohrtman’s paperback primer, “I’ll Vote for You If You Make My iPhone Work.” The text is available at various retailers such as Amazon.

Editor’s Note: This article is a part of a continuing series on the topic of broadband telecommunications.

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