To meet growing demands,
T-Mobile constantly expands the mobile highway.
Wireless networks are like roads and highways: more cars and drivers mean better roads and wider streets are needed to handle the traffic.
Greater demand for mobile means our national network must locate antennas in more places (indoors and outdoors) while making sure there are high-speed connections from these antennas back to the core telecommunications network.
Standard antenna facilities are known for
providing broad coverage.
Traditional macro sites are installed on rooftops, building facades monopoles and other steel structures. These traditional deployments provide coverage over a broad area (up to several miles in some instances) while handling capacity demands from many mobile device users.
We constantly add capacity, coverage and speed to our network:
antennas, radios, land-based equipment & more.
FULL DATA &
A traditional cell site includes an antenna structure with multiple antennas connected to low powered radio transmitters and receivers. Antennas are usually located 50’ to 150’ above ground level.
Base stations house radio transceivers and amplifiers that provide linkage to the site's antennas and to the high-speed connections (usually fiber optic cable) back to legacy telephone system.
High-speed connectivity from cell sites back to the core telecommunications network is called “backhaul.” Fiber optic cable is the fastest technology and is usually used to handle the most data (think 12-lane superhighway).
In some instances – especially when sending signals over long distances in rural areas, or in places where fiber optic cable is not a viable option – T-Mobile uses very fast and highly dependable microwave transmissions for backhaul.
Switches channel incoming data from multiple locations and send the information to its intended destination.
Circuit-switching – used for voice connections – allows for a continuously connected, dedicated path from one caller to another.
Packet-switching – used for data (texts, pictures, video, etc.) – divides a message into packets that travel on the same paths and at the same time for all network users.
PUBLIC TELEPHONE NETWORK
Public Telephone Network
Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) refers to all the voice-oriented public telephone networks – both commercial and government-operated – that have evolved since the beginning of telephony. Telephone calls from mobile phones are routed onto the POTS via the switch.
For wireless calls to maintain connectivity as a customer drives or walks down a street, the signals from one cell site must overlap with the signals of the next cell site.
It’s important to know that the signal overlap must be optimized – too much overlap and there are interference issues; if there is no overlap, a gap in coverage could result in dropped calls.
To maintain its license, T-Mobile must meet strict regulations administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
T-Mobile must also comply with many local, state and federal regulatory requirements – including local zoning ordinances and construction standards – as well as government agencies and laws (e.g. the FAA, National Environmental Protection Act, National Historic Preservation Act, etc.)
Wireless networks depend on radio waves that travel through the air. Topography can get in the way of those radio signals.
Hills, valleys, trees – even the amount of foliage on trees – are some of the naturally occurring obstacles that get in the way of uninterrupted transmission of radio waves.
Just like topography, man-made obstacles can interfere with the transmission of radio waves. This is why signals inside homes and buildings are not as strong as when you are outdoors or traveling in your car.
In addition to all the science that goes into properly locating a cell site,
T-Mobile must also find a property owner that is willing to have an antenna facility placed on his/her property.
Public and private landlords are compensated for the lease of space where antenna facilities are located – whether on commercial property, local or regional park land, fire or police stations, church property or on an individual landowner’s personal property.
Determining the need for new & upgraded sites,
requires in-depth analysis of many factors.
Small cells — deployed on buildings, utility poles, bus stops, & in the public right-of-way —
are key to 4G and future 5G networks
When a traditional antenna site’s signal is blocked by obstacles, or when network capacity is challenged by large numbers of users, Small Cell and Distributed Antenna System (DAS) networks can improve coverage, capacity and network speeds.
This also relates to network densification strategies, which position more antennas closer to mobile devices – another technique used by T-Mobile to enhance our national network.
Small Cells are miniature versions of traditional cell sites. These self-contained cell sites are small, lightweight and low power. When deployed, they simply need to be mounted and connected to a power source where they become an extension of the macro network.
There are a variety of Small Cell technologies that serve different purposes: Microcells, Picocells, Metrocells, and Femtocells.
See Technology Choices Fact Sheet
A Distributed Antenna System network is made up of a base station, which is connected by fiber optic cable to a group of antennas placed remotely in outdoor or indoor locations - telephone poles and street lights are two examples.
Conceptually, it is similar to a string of lights for a Christmas tree or backyard patio – the lights represent the individual antennas. The electric outlet represents the central hub / base station where radio equipment handles the voice and data transmission.
Personal & Public Safety
Small Cell and DAS technologies – just like our macro network – are constantly being updated to meet federal requirements that allow mobile customers to call 9-1-1, stay connected, and automatically provide first responders with caller ID and location information.
New voluntary agreements reached by the industry in late-2014 will lead to more accurately locating all 9-1-1 callers, as well as identifying their vertical location in high–rise buildings.
See Enhanced 9-1-1 Fact Sheet
Specialized coverage needs —
in stadiums, offices, across university campuses —
demand specialized networks.
SMALL CELL BENEFITS & CHALLENGES
Capacity & Reach
Coverage in hard-to-reach locations: Man-made and naturally occurring obstacles to radio waves – and in some instances, aesthetics – are considerations for using Small Cell and DAS technologies.
Small Cell deployments offer greater capacity with lower power antennas. While the reach of the radio waves is a fraction of macro cell sites, the smaller footprint means more antennas are closer to where mobile devices are used — which improves service quality.
Some Small Cell deployments can include the development of infrastructure that necessitates sidewalk and roadwork construction.
T-Mobile considers all the factors
before determining the proper site solution.
1,000 x Less
Typical installations… have shown ground-level power densities are thousands of times less than FCC’s limits.
PUBLIC SAFETY ›
Nearly half of U.S. households are wireless-only homes, making signal strength a priority for home buyers and renters.
FAQs & RESOURCES ›
Expert site developers & radio engineers choose the best technologies and designs for
T-Mobile's Data Strong network.
TECHNOLOGY CHOICES FACTS ›
Get more facts about how mobile works.