Cell Towers: You’re on Notice

Dear Cell Towers:

We need to talk. This just isn’t working out anymore. You’re SO high maintenance ($210 billion a year to operate and $50 billion a year for upgrades—are you crazy?), you’re large and wasteful, you’re always sending mixed signals (2G, 3G, 4G…it’d be fine if they weren’t interfering with each other), and don’t get me started on your congestion problems. It was great while it lasted, but I need someone who can handle my data. Besides, just look at all the sexy new technology that’s lining up to take your place—can you really blame me for wanting an open relationship?

Now, try not to get upset, but I’ve been checking out your younger siblings—the small cell family. Full disclosure, right? You have to admit, microcells and picocells are so hot right now. They’re tired of standing in your shadow, dealing with the traffic you offload to them. Sure, picocells only have a range of 200 meters or less, and microcells are limited to 2 km, but they’re much more versatile and efficient than you. Plus, they’re cheaper dates. And I know, femtocells (~10 m) are still pretty young, but they’re growing up fast—there were 3.2 million femtocells deployed in 2012 alone.

And why can’t you be more like your sister, lightRadio? Now there’s a fine piece of tech. She can do everything that you can do, but better, and she even fits in a size-zero Rubik’s Cube. She’s practically anorexic when it comes to power-usage, and did I mention her multi-generational antennas? No signal interference there! I’m not trying to be cruel, but come on…people try to disguise you as trees.

“I didn’t say you were ugly.
 I just said that trees are less ugly.”

It’s not only your siblings I’m interested in. There are also Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), which spread your load over several smaller antennas, while still managing to be less power-hungry than you. They’re great for carrying signal deep into buildings—we both know that’s far from being one of your strengths. Even outdoors they have an advantage: more antennas mean more line-of-sight channels, whereas you rarely see eye-to-eye with anyone.
Also soaring high above you (and me, for that matter) are HAPS, or High Altitude Platform Systems. These stratospheric, semi-stationary aircraft are on the rise, so to speak, and their range of coverage will make even you jealous. HAPS can be housed in various low-flying forms, like balloons or airships, which are easier (and cheaper) to launch and maintain than satellites. I’ll admit they’re not really big on “commitment”—they only stay up for hours or days at a time—but I believe they can change.

Well, Cell Towers, I guess this is it: time to go our separate ways. I’ll give you some time to pack your things and find somewhere else to go; will 10 years be enough?

Don’t look so down, Cell Towers. We’ll always have Paris.

(Or maybe not.)

photo credit: Scott Beale via photopin cc
photo credit: charliebarker via photopin cc


Brent Urmey is an avid reader and writer on a variety of subjects, including social media, SEO, the Wireless industry, and life in Lancaster County, PA. He is a graduate of Drexel University and a survivor of the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse. You can connect with Brent on Google +.