Connectivity through a city
17Feb, 23 February 17, 2023Engineering
  • By Caroline McNally

You have probably seen a small cell before, but do not know it. Camouflaged above streetlights, utility poles, and slim line poles are small antennas and shrouds that make up a small cell. These small cells are responsible for our 5G, faster internet, and larger device capacity. In this blog we are going to look at an overview of small cells, a form of a distributed antenna system (DAS), and how the tiny system facilitates 5G and large cellular data capacities.  

Small Cells are made up of two components. The first component is a Shroud, also known as a cabinet, that holds and transmits all the data from cabinets, underground fiber, and communication hubs. The second component is an antenna. The antenna is small and cylindrical and is usually installed on top or near the top of poles. Antennas are connected to the shrouds and receive and transmit wireless signals via radio frequency to and from devices.  

All of the communication infrastructure inside of shrouds is owned by wireless operators (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobil) and is not publicly owned. However, all the external infrastructure housing this internal infrastructure is owned by infrastructure owners (Crown Castle, MasTec), and these can either be privately or publicly owned depending on the company. Simply put, the antenna and shroud are owned by an infrastructure owner (Crown Castle, MasTec) and everything inside a shroud is owned by wireless operators (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobil). Ownership of the internal parts of a shroud is separated from ownership of the antenna and shroud as a preventative measure in case a crisis happened to either ownership party. Due to this ownership, communication via devices will run as normal if a crisis ever strikes one of the ownership parties.  

Small Cells are necessary to facilitate 5G and accommodate large data capacities. Large cities, densely populated areas, global population increase, and technological advancements have led to more people than ever utilizing devices. When 5G was first proposed, the main problems being fixed from 4G were lag times, lack of devices allowed on a network (bandwidth), devices being kicked off networks frequently, poor initial rollout, and the growing demand for technological connections. The goal of 5G was to solve common communication issues with 4G and its lack of practical rollout.  

To solve issues with 4G, the increase of wireless connectivity requires an increase in structures that support wireless connectivity. That is where small cells come in. Small cells, because of their size are easy to attach to existing infrastructures like streetlights, utility poles, and slim line poles. Instead of installing entirely new infrastructure it is much easier to attach new infrastructure to old infrastructure. On account of Small Cell’s ease of installation and lack of view obstruction, 5G has now become the mobile communication standard.  

As of 2021, with the installations and use of small cells, 5G networks have more than 6.5 billion subscriptions worldwide and account for over 25% of the broadband market. Maverick Corporation is proud to have engineering and installed many of the small cells you notice throughout the whole United States. If you’re interested in learning more about how the Maverick team can support you with your small cell DAS node installation projects reach out to our team today!