“A cell tower down the street? Not in my back yard.” Those of you working in the area of cell towers, wireless carriers, and large antennae in municipalities across the country, how many times have you heard that statement in heated public discussions?
People want broadband connectivity and clean, clear service for their smartphones, tablets and other wireless devices, but when it comes to having a tall tower close by, many people are NIMBYs (Not in My Back Yard).
Go to the local town or village hall meeting, and you will always find these people fighting against any construction or progress to build a stronger intelligent infrastructure, even if it is for the betterment of the community and the local economy.
We have to get beyond this hardheaded resistance and get the best network up and running if we are to compete with the rest of the world and utilize all that 5G networks have to offer. The NIMBY crowd has to be neutralized as regional viability and long-term sustainability become more critical to small and medium-sized municipalities.
The village and town councils as well as their corporation counsels (lawyers) also have to understand the impacts of having towers located in their town to strengthen the basic fabric of their infrastructure. They need to remember that weak infrastructures do not attract or maintain a good business environment. Even the local press should have a better understanding of what the additional intelligent infrastructure means when it comes to having a solid infrastructure (or platform for commerce) to attract and maintain corporate facilities.
Fortunately, more options are coming out, and towers can be blended into the community and fade into the background. Antennae and digital signage are being put together among other synergistic capabilities.
Local works of art? Maybe not, but a lot more aesthetically pleasing than older generations of cell towers.
Another option is to create a multicarrier cell tower where one tower services several network carriers. This is becoming more popular and is a better solution for several reasons:
- Less impact on the environment (one tower instead of three or four)
- More manageable for the municipality (one location needs to be approved, secured and maintained, not three or four)
- Growth is taken care of in one place rather than piecemeal
NIMBY or a new twist for economic development?
More network carriers are going to collocated towers and shared facilities as more applications and traffic grow the wireless network infrastructure. We need faster ways to implement these towers, so the network backbone keeps up with the increasing end-user demand. With 5G around the corner, this demand and resulting growth are not going to stop any time soon.
What one company has come up with is a combination tower and observation point where people can go up 200 feet to an observatory to look at the surrounding area.
Think about that for a second. You build a collocation tower to service all of the network carriers and increase area capacity, but it also serves as a new “destination point” for the community to promote and attract more tourism into the town. Talk about a win-win situation.
“The Village X Observatory—Come see miles around the area from our unique observation point overlooking the Valley.”
Something like this would create a draw, and not only would the observatory be a revenue generator, it could be the catalyst for a new nucleus of businesses, restaurants and overall economic development.
It would bring in more people to local restaurants, gas stations and many other local businesses. Would local people be as objectionable to an approach like this where the town actually gets a residual value above and beyond the enhanced network capacity? I don’t think so.
Maybe this is the new approach to sell communities to take a second look at the values of approving a multicarrier antenna tower to also receive an added boost to tourism and promoting the town to gain more money into the local economy. All municipalities need to be concerned about sustaining regional economic viability as job creation is not a given for every community or region.
This is the type of creative and innovative thinking that will carry us further into the 21st century.