Avoid Communication Gridlock
When the first cellular service was launched about twenty-five years ago, providers indicated only a few sites would be needed. A second cellular provider came along and said much the same. As the industry expanded into the next phase, Personal Communications Services (PCS) developed four more providers adding locations and all needing facilities. Next came, Enhanced Specialized Mobile Radio (ESMR), a modified Radio Common Carrier operator and once again there was a need for new facilities.
By the mid 1990’s there were a total of seven service providers each saying they would only need a few sites. As technology evolved, so did the deployment requirements. Over time more consumers subscribed, more cell phones emerged and provider networks continued to grow requiring the addition of more and more base stations. The wireless industry remains in the construction phase and now is modifying and upgrading existing facilities to accommodate new and improved technologies. This will continue for many years to come as services expand and improve.
Industry mergers will not reduce the demand for new sites, as the amount of bandwidth will remain, and may actually increase with more new services. This spectrum is a valuable commodity whose growth will require the need of more facility locations. It is well known in the wireless industry that many more cell sites will be required as demand increases. The existing infrastructure only represents a mid-level percentage of future needs. For reference, a cell site frequency block can handle between 150 and 240 phone calls, per provider. Continued growth of wireless systems will place a strong burden on the network, resulting in system overload and communications gridlock. Cellular providers have no incentive to work together to prevent gridlock; in fact many will use such gridlock to their own marketing advantage. They are in competition against each other for the same customer. Carriers have found this growth to exceed all previous expectations and not by a small amount. Smartphones have changed everything, and the public is demanding more. Smartphones will require more total cell facilities than was anticipated for the standard voice (text/photo) phone. So the infrastructure needs will continue to grow and at an increased rate.
All providers are part of the problem, along with the users of the same frequency band, but rectifying it requires specialized knowledge and expertise. A Wireless Telecommunications Master Plan is a first step to reducing communications gridlock. In addition a Master Plan will do far more for municipalities by reducing the total number of towers and when properly executed may create new revenues for the City. Most gridlock occurs in and around the 800 MHz frequencies. The reason is simple as this is home to the highest concentration of both personal and individual communications units. In this overloaded band is duplex communications or two-way trunking systems, taxicabs, delivery trucks, paging systems and many more services including the very important public safety, police and fire radio and right next to the cellular telephones frequencies.
Growth will continue with wireless internet, text messaging, picture phones, interactive games, XXXXX. The service is in demand by consumers which will continue to drive growth, all leading to more minutes of use, more people using each facility and therefore more facilities needed. Here is an easy comparison and it works somewhat similarly; “Would you allow anyone to come into your community and put traffic lights wherever they want?” It takes coordination and timing to be successful, if not, wouldn’t that lead to traffic gridlock? A Telecommunications Master Plan works the same way. CityScape is here to help; and with proper planning your community will be less likely to suffer communications gridlock.
The bottom line is that considerably more wireless communication facilities, not less, will be needed over the next decade to serve the existing wireless service providers and future emerging technologies.