Building a 5G future

When 5G comes to your town, you might notice some changes around the neighborhood. Your favorite map app could help you cut through congestion with a near-instant new route. Your devices and appliances might communicate seamlessly to save you time and energy at work and home. And on game night, you may find yourself in a virtual 3D experience, standing shoulder to shoulder with a famous sportscaster and celebrating a buzzer beater.

What is a small cell?

We only build cell sites where needed to improve service

Think of small cells as a mini- cell sites — they support traditional macro cell towers by bolstering coverage and capacity in targeted areas where it’s most needed. Low profile, compact, scalable and unobtrusive, small cells improve network performance by densifying our network (in other words, bringing sites closer to the customer), meaning data doesn’t have to travel as far.

How are small cells installed?

We seek to attach to existing structures first and install new poles only when existing structures are unavailable

Small cells are typically used in dense urban environments with lots of demand for service and in challenging geographic environments that create coverage gaps. When placed outdoors, small cells are generally attached to existing utility poles, light poles, traffic lights in the right-of-way, but in some circumstances can be attached to exterior walls of buildings. Small cells cannot replace macro cell towers and instead complement their coverage where larger towers simply won’t fit.

How are sites selected for small cell deployment?

We consider a variety of factors. Applicable siting and permitting requirements are always taken into account. We also look to see where we might have potential performance challenges within the network and use that data to help guide where we need to target small cells. Speed, cost, flexibility and scalability are all vital to determining if small cells are the right fit.

How do you manage health and safety concerns?

We take health and safety seriously

We rigorously comply with applicable local construction requirements and with the FCC’s standards for radio frequency exposure.

5G in your neighborhood

Pardon our dust! We are busy improving our wireless networks. And we couldn’t do it without you.
You may have noticed some changes in your neighborhood as we work to bring you state-of-the-art wireless technology. Technologies like small cells are used to improve network performance and support current and future data needs, such as laying the foundation for 5G. As we bring you next generation connectivity, community collaboration is important to us.

What is a small cell?

We only build cell sites where needed to improve service

Think of small cells as a mini- cell sites — they support traditional macro cell towers by bolstering coverage and capacity in targeted areas where it’s most needed. Low profile, compact, scalable and unobtrusive, small cells improve network performance by densifying our network (in other words, bringing sites closer to the customer), meaning data doesn’t have to travel as far.

How are small cells installed?

We seek to attach to existing structures first and install new poles only when existing structures are unavailable

Small cells are typically used in dense urban environments with lots of demand for service and in challenging geographic environments that create coverage gaps. When placed outdoors, small cells are generally attached to existing utility poles, light poles, traffic lights in the right-of-way, but in some circumstances can be attached to exterior walls of buildings. Small cells cannot replace macro cell towers and instead complement their coverage where larger towers simply won’t fit.

How are sites selected for small cell deployment?

We consider a variety of factors. Applicable siting and permitting requirements are always taken into account. We also look to see where we might have potential performance challenges within the network and use that data to help guide where we need to target small cells. Speed, cost, flexibility and scalability are all vital to determining if small cells are the right fit.

How do you manage health and safety concerns?

We take health and safety seriously

We rigorously comply with applicable local construction requirements and with the FCC’s standards for radio frequency exposure.

That’s why we work closely with city and local leaders on our construction projects:

We only build cell sites where needed.

Wireless broadband infrastructure is expensive, but we also need to build to meet the demand of our customers and the growing technology economy.

We plan to add to existing structures before building new ones.

Where available, we attach small cells to existing infrastructure like streetlights and telephone poles before installing a new pole, if needed.

We preserve the character of our communities.

We follow local code and notification procedures, working with local leaders to minimize the impact to cities and neighborhoods while increasing connectivity.

We take health and safety seriously.

AT&T’s wireless sites are designed and operated to comply with the FCC’s rigorous radiofrequency exposure limits. As a result, exposure of the general public to radio frequency levels is up to 200 times below federal limits.

Laying the foundation for 5G

Over the past decade, consumers have used an unparalleled amount of data. In 2019, Americans used 4,416,720 gigabytes of internet data every minute. That’s a 41% increase from 2018! That’s why making sure we bring you the best mobile network — which has seen a 580,000% increase in data traffic since 2007 — is a top priority.

To provide the quality and reliable wireless service everywhere you live, work and play, we use a variety of technologies — including macro towers and small cells — to build, upgrade and enhance our network.

Here’s a snapshot of how our
wireless network operates:
Network Graphic
Open
Cell phones, tablets, and wireless devices
Wireless broadband infrastructure is expensive, but we also need to build to meet the demand of our customers and the growing technology economy.
Open
Traditional cell sites
Macro (cell sites) towers are the foundation of the capacity and wide-ranging coverage that today’s consumers demand. They are the most fundamental building blocks needed to enable text, voice and high-speed mobile internet, including 5G.
About Macro Cells
Macro cells are effective for covering large geographic areas, especially in rural situations, with relatively high capacity, because they tend to use lower range spectrum frequencies, which travel further than the high frequency spectrum typically used by smaller cell technologies. Based on their reach, macro cells provide the largest area of wireless network coverage with the fewest number of sites.
Open
Fiber Optics
Fiber optic lines are the modern equivalent of copper wire, but instead of using electricity to transmit information, fiber uses pulses of light to transport internet-based data. Fiber optics can support much more data, and transmit it faster, than traditional copper lines.
Open
Small Cells
Think of small cells as a mini-macro cell site — they support traditional cell towers but operate differently because they bolster capacity where it’s most needed. Low profile, compact, scalable and unobtrusive wireless facilities, small cells improve network performance by densifying our network, meaning data doesn’t have to travel as far. While small cells cannot replace macro cell towers, they complement their coverage in places that these larger towers simply won’t fit. And, small cells help to enhance reach of, and more efficient use of, spectrum — which helps enable a better wireless experience.
About Small Cells
To keep up with the surging consumer demand for more data, we must optimize our network architecture with the technologies that enable more efficient use of spectrum. One of the best paths forward is network densification, and the solution is small cells.
Open
Network
The Network is the radio spectrum, electronics and equipment, and structures that combine to provide wireless service. This combines billions of dollars of investment in radio spectrum licenses, electronics and equipment like radios and antennas, and structures like cell towers and fiber optic cables. All of the network comments integrate to provide consumers with the fast and reliable wireless experience to enjoy, voice, data, and video where the consumer wants to access it.
Open
Spectrum
Spectrum is the airwaves over which wireless communications (calls, texts, email, internet traffic, etc.) travel to and from wireless devices via cell sites.
Open
Central Office
At the central office (wireless switch building), home and business lines connect to the network. The central office has equipment that routes calls locally or to long-distance carrier facilities.
Cell phones, tablets, and wireless devices
1. Cell phones, tablets, and wireless devices
Wireless broadband infrastructure is expensive, but we also need to build to meet the demand of our customers and the growing technology economy.
Traditional cell sites
2. Traditional cell sites
Macro (cell sites) towers are the foundation of the capacity and wide-ranging coverage that today’s consumers demand. They are the most fundamental building blocks needed to enable text, voice and high-speed mobile internet, including 5G.
Fiber Optics
3. Fiber Optics
Fiber optic lines are the modern equivalent of copper wire, but instead of using electricity to transmit information, fiber uses pulses of light to transport internet-based data. Fiber optics can support much more data, and transmit it faster, than traditional copper lines.
Cell Sites or Macro Cells
4. Cell Sites or Macro Cells
Macro (cell sites) towers are the foundation of the capacity and wide-ranging coverage that today’s consumers demand. They are the most fundamental building blocks needed to enable text, voice and high-speed mobile internet, including 5G.
About Macro Cells
Macro cells are effective for covering large geographic areas, especially in rural situations, with relatively high capacity, because they tend to use lower range spectrum frequencies, which travel further than the high frequency spectrum typically used by smaller cell technologies. Based on their reach, macro cells provide the largest area of wireless network coverage with the fewest number of sites.
Network
5. Network
The Network is the radio spectrum, electronics and equipment, and structures that combine to provide wireless service. This combines billions of dollars of investment in radio spectrum licenses, electronics and equipment like radios and antennas, and structures like cell towers and fiber optic cables. All of the network comments integrate to provide consumers with the fast and reliable wireless experience to enjoy, voice, data, and video where the consumer wants to access it.
Spectrum
6. Spectrum
Spectrum is the airwaves over which wireless communications (calls, texts, email, internet traffic, etc.) travel to and from wireless devices via cell sites.
Network Graphic
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