The wireless industry continues to grow as the number of people with Smart phones, tablets and laptops increases. In fact, according to the CTIA Wireless Association, there are now more wireless devices being used in the United States then there are people. In order for wireless providers to keep up with this growing demand, carriers are building-out their networks by attaching their transmitting antennas on a variety of tall structures including monopoles, buildings, utility towers, steeples, silos, billboards, and water tanks. Architecture/Engineering (A/E) firms, such as Maser Consulting P.A., are hired by wireless carriers to design the physical installations of their networks.
One of the more specialized challenges that wireless carriers face is providing service coverage for regions that have a large amount of people in a small geographic area and/or a small timeframe. Concerts, sporting events, and conventions are some examples. A/E firms design Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) to provide adequate coverage for these types of events. Because the NFL moves its championship game to a different stadium each year, wireless providers have to continually upgrade their system while reconfiguring the system’s physical installation to meet the specific needs of the site.
The Championship game continues to register the highest wireless data activity of any one sports event, pushing the envelope of wireless capabilities. According to Mobile Sports Report, preparations for this year’s game began a year ago, with wireless carriers each installing more than 500 DAS antennas.
As part of these preparations, a nationwide wireless carrier tasked Maser Consulting with designing a DAS within the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey in time for America’s favorite pro football game of the year. Modifications included the addition and/or upgrade of both indoor and outdoor antennas and the incorporation of new LTE/4G technology to provide the most reliable coverage available. Since each facility has unique characteristics, part of the design challenge was configuring the system to fit into the physical environment of the site as well as making the antenna network as unobtrusive as possible—especially the indoor ones. An additional challenge was completing the job within plenty of time to meet the ramped-up security needs of the facility prior to game day.
The ability to coordinate multiple engineering services is paramount to the successful execution of this type of design work. A/E Project Managers need to have a diverse working knowledge of professional fields: civil/site, structural, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, geotechnical, environmental, survey, planning, construction inspection, site acquisition/leasing. One of the newest developments being implemented in the field is the use of LiDAR, a powerful 3D High-definition laser scanning technology that enables us to quickly gather highly accurate information about the location, height, and orientation of a tower and tower appurtenances. Since LiDAR is operated remotely, it promotes safety in the field to system operators. A single wireless site may require many or all of these disciplines.
Another challenge specific to A/E design is getting sites approved through local jurisdictions. There are currently no federal regulations for siting wireless facilities on new properties (raw land site builds). In addition to having knowledge of all necessary professional fields, A/E firms must have expertise in local town, county, and state requirements for locating new structures within their jurisdiction. For example, the state of New Jersey has 565 municipalities all with their own zoning and design requirements for wireless installations.
Wireless technology has become embedded within our culture and connects us through the internet, phones, computers, televisions, and tablets at the touch of a finger. Laying the groundwork for all of this to happen 24/7, is a thankless task. The future evolution of this industry is an astounding effort that continues to grow in leaps and bounds in order to meet the demands of the public at large. But it is the tireless efforts of the telecommunication professionals continually working in the background that connects this fast-paced industry seamlessly into the hands of the user.