Tuesday, July 12, 2016

DAS Sites going up around Massachusetts

Winchester, MA

Methuen, MA

I'm not sure who's DAS sites these are, but they are popping up all over Massachusetts.
These were all installed within the last month and none of them are turned up yet.

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Thursday, May 01, 2014

An interesting article on a gentleman using a cell phone jammer to make his commute more distraction free.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cool Cell phone plan evaluator from Wall Street Journal

Here is a great little tool for comparing the most recent cell phone plans I just found... from the Wall Street Journal....  http://graphics.wsj.com/PhonePlan/?mg=inert-wsj

Friday, September 06, 2013

Cool video of a cell phone tower climb.

I thought this is good video of a climb up a cell tower by a tower climber.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

DAS Antenna and equipment... Marthas Vineyard Massachusetts

Antenna and equipment on a pole on Marthas Vineyard in the town of Aquinnah. I noticed my AT&T service was excellent, and noticed the antennas almost immediately while driving. I snapped this picture last year while on-island, and remembered after a recent trip. An article from MV Times on the system.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Interesting example of MetroPCS meeting with town zoning board.

I have found a number of town meeting/ selectman/ Zoning Board meeting minutes that wireless carries have to go to in order to win town approval to build or add onto an existing site. It usually gives some advance info on where local sites will be built (and where I can keep an eye out to get some photos!).
In this example, from the town of Methuen, Mass Zoning Board, there is some expanded discussion on the permit application. It makes for an interesting read, especially the Zoning Board asking "exactly who is?" MetroPCS, since in July 2008, most people outside the industry in New England had never even heard of them!

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

TMobile Continues New England Build

TMobile continues their build in New England, with a solid coverage map now thruout Eastern Mass. Most new sites I see being built (and have photos that I am preparing to update on my cellulartower.com site)are TMobile sites. Usually, they have been building sites at 2 or 3 times the pace of other carriers (just by my observations). I don't have them as a carrier, but I assume that customers must see a dramatic increase in coverage in this area. More to come!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

MetroPCS launches Boston Service!

MetroPCS has finally launched their Boston service after approximately a one year build out. By using their web sites coverage finder, it looks like the current covered area is primarily inside Rte 495, with mainly the major routes covered, as well as the major population centers. If you live in the outskirts of a town in the suburbs, you are probably out of luck for getting a signal. It reminds me of both SprintPCS and TMobile (when it was Omnipoint)about 9 or 10 years ago! I'm still working on getting a MetroPCS site spotlighted, but it seems for now they are simply adding their antennas to existing towers. I guess we can say 'welcome to Boston' to a new carrier, bringing us to six in Massachusetts!

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Cellular coverage during inaugeration!

I meant to write this a few days ago, but here it is a few days after the inauguration and I'm just getting to it now. There was some great coverage about the work all the major providers in DC were doing, and the build up to make sure calls, texts , and photos were going to go thru OK. It looks like most of the providers used COW and COLTs to provide additional coverage, and with the exception of some reports of Texts coming an hour or so after being sent, there weren't many huge issues with coverage. I did notice in one shot while the president was traveling to the White House, there was a shot of an AT&T COLT right next to the road (It had a huge AT&T 'world' logo on the side of the truck!)

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Cell tower collapses after fire in Wellesley!!

A monopole cell phone tower off Rte 9 in Wellesley, MA caught fire today (Wellesley Townsman) and collapsed. I understand a crew was doing some welding on the tower, which ignited the coax cable. The fire burned for about a half hour, before the tower collapsed. Of course, the incident was caught on nearby cell phone cameras. Here are some links to various news outlets coverage:

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Monday, January 12, 2009

MetroPCS trouble adding cell sites thru Massachusetts

Here is an article from the Lawrence Eagle Tribune regarding MetroPCS (along with TMobile) trying to add a cell site in a church steeple in North Andover, MA. They are trying to rapidly build out their network, and may be finding that with five other networks already built up here in Massachusetts, it's not as easy to find towers with space available on them. The article mentions that the flagpole antenna at the Stevens Estate (Osgood Hill) is full, I have pictures of that site here.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sprint building out 'Clear' WiMax service in Boston!

I have been on the lookout for the Sprint 'Clear' (formerly Xohm) WiMax antennas and base stations in the Boston area. I have been reading that they are building out their network throughout the area. As soon as I have some photos and information on the antenna configuration, I will be posting it here, and on Cellulartower.com
I also believe that MetroPCS is getting closer to launching in the Boston market. I have not gotten any specific photos yet, but have noticed a number of sites that have added antenna arrays recently, where all the other legacy carriers were already accounted for. More to come....

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Friday, November 21, 2008

More issues for siting in downtown Boston

Good article from the Boston Globe on cell sites in the city. I really believe that providers have to work a little harder to integrate the sites into the city, and make them invisible for residents and guests!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How to get a cell phone tower on your ranch land!!

I seem to have discovered a quick and simple way to get two cell phone companies to place a cell tower on your land to get yourself better reception. Be very rich, and then run for president!
From a recent article, it seems like this is an optimum way to get better reception for yourself! I had to write a quick snippet about this on my blog, because I do get a fair amount of people asking me if there are secrets to getting the cell phone companies to put a tower on their land (In this case, they are simply COW's...still no word if they will build a permanent site after the election;-).
I have to admit though, I have never heard of a cell phone company jumping through hoops to get a very limited amount of customers better service. They generally only place them where business models for revenue are favorable.
Well, I guess there are a few exceptions.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Dateline NBC Episode on Cell Tower and Communications tower climbers!

I'm looking forward to the episode on Dateline tonight that will feature the guys who climb the communications towers I blabber about on my site. It's named Tower Dogs! It should be interesting!

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

T Mobile to place cell tower in cemetery....

T Mobile is working on placing a cell tower in a cemetery in Framingham, MA. As I spoke about in earlier blogs, T Mobile is being very creative in building out it's New England network, with alot of work going into filling the 'dead zones' for the wireless network.
Local Framingham residents are up in arm's, as reported in a recent Boston Globe article. It always seems that people question the ' health effects', but a tower placed over 40-50 yards (and possibly more) from the nearest house, with woods separating them, should have virtually little RF radiation from the tower. Here is a video from New England Cable News on the cemetery controversy.
T Mobile has really pushed hard building there network, and I wonder what effect that will have on customers coverage and satisfaction in New England. MetroPCS will have to do lot's of work to get into the same ballpark.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

MetroPCS uses DAS to speed rollout in New England

MetroPCS is hopping in on the two DAS systems in Massachusetts to help them build out the area network a little quicker. The Andover system is already built and running, but the Brookline system seems to be a source of controversy. A local newspaper article gives some insight into the turmoil that surrounds this system build out.
Distributed Antenna Systems can eliminate the need for cell towers, but in a town (city) like Brookline, that has lot's of multi-story buildings, a cell site can easily be 'hidden' on the roofs of some of the taller buildings. Tall buildings such as the Brook House Condominiums, which are about 1o stories tall, can easily house multiple carriers, with minimal aesthetic impact.
As MetroPCS builds out, I will be watching to keep you informed and up to date.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

DAS Systems in Andover and Brookline

I was doing some research on other types of cellular sites, and came across info on Distributed Antenna Systems. Imagine my surprise when I realized that there was a system installed relatively close to my hometown. I have added a new page to my main site for the Distributed Antenna System system built in Andover, MA by National Grid Wireless. Check it out.

Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) work as a repeater system, with multiple small transmitter/receivers placed thruout a town or an area where reception needs to be bolstered. They are all connected, usually by T1's or fiber optic link, back to a controller, which acts like a cellular base station . The individual sites cove a much smaller area than a conventional cell site, and generally use omni directional antenna, receiving and transmitting signal 360 degrees, verses the conventional cellular site which utilized 120 degree sectorization.

For a town like Andover, where there was probably a significant resistance to a cellular tower, these types of systems can offer a good compromise.

The Town of Brookline is also having one of these systems built out, with 31 sites. It is being built by a company called Extenet. I know they have been having some problems, and actually is fighting a competitor, NextG, to build there system. NextG has signed a carrier (MetroPCS!!!!) (See my previous post!!!), and wants to build a system to encompass the entire town, not just a portion, as Extenet has proposed. Check out this article on it from a local paper. More to come!

Friday, February 29, 2008

MetroPCS already building in New England!!!

Wow, things move quick!
As I started looking around after finding that MetroPCS is on the verge of building a completely new, independent cellular system in New England, I have found that they have already applied for permits for a number of sites!
Locations in Boston, Haverhill and Beverly, MA have already been selected and they have appearances at town meetings to gain site approvals. It looks like a number of the preliminary sites will be added to existing towers, as well as a few sites on buildings.
It also looks like they have contracted out to a number of local wireless site acquisition and engineering companies, which is probably how they were able to move the process without having an established office in New England (By the way, it looks like their office will be located on Billerica Rd in Chelmsford, MA)
I am sure they will do the kind of gang buster build out that TMobile has embarked on the past few years. My guess is they must, since they have alot of catching up to do! Even Sprint, which is on the 'low' end of coverage in this market, has had 10 years to build the all digital network and fill the holes in their coverage (I remember around 1998 when coverage was strictly limited to the highways around Boston!). I will be keeping a close eye out and keep you updated as this build moves forward!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

More cell towers in our future?

As a follow-up to a post I made November 21st 2004, It looks like my prediction was close to being on target. If the current trend continues, more towers will be popping up around the area for a variety of reasons I mentioned three years ago, as well as two recent events.
As another carrier enters the New England market(see my previous post regarding MetroPCS!), they will need to place more antennas on existing sites, as well as build out sites of there own.
Recently Verizon Wireless announced their $99 a month all you can eat plan, with both AT&T and TMobile offered comparable plans almost immediately! Now with even Sprint jumping in on the $99 all you can talk plan, you will see a need to increase site capacity to keep up with the ever growing usage and demand.
Add this to the need for carriers to complete coverage in the market, add higher speed broadband services, as well as keep up with more users per site, and you see that the amount of sites will continue it's rise. This will be a boon for some of the big cell tower companies, such as American Tower!
I had originally thought that the Cingular/AT&T merger and Sprint/Nextel merger would result in a short term reduced need for some sites, but that has not really panned out. The need to add capacity and those high speed data has kept demand high. I think 2008 will be a big year for the building of sites. Keep your eyes open for more towers!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

MetroPCS Coming To New England?!?!?!?

Is MetroPCS a cell phone provider that primarily offers service in Florida, California, and Texas coming to New England? On January 25th, MetroPCS was looking for a VP of Network Operations for a Chelmsford, MA location. The job description is looking for someone to : " Plan, organize and direct the process of the Fixed and Field Network Engineering, RF Engineering. Manage the leasing, zoning, construction, deployment and optimization of the regional area BTA’s encompassing a population base. Responsible for continuing growth and operations of the regional system. Manage the negotiations of all vendors for the region. " In addition, they are looking for Switch Techs, Cell Techs, Site Acquisition Specialists, Construction Managers, PR and Sales Professionals.

From an article in September 2006 in the Dallas Business Journal:

According to data from the Federal Communications Commission, which held the auction that ended last week, MetroPCS acquired eight licenses covering geographic areas with a total population of more than 144 million people.

The three largest areas cover roughly the Northeast and New England area (on a bid of $552.7 million); the West Coast, stretching into parts of the Rocky Mountains, the Southwest desert and past Idaho (a $355.7 million bid); and New York City, along with Long Island and parts of New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Vermont ($364 million).

It looks to me like they are getting ready to join the wireless market in New England and begin building out their network.

From the job descriptions, it looks like they will be running Lucent Base stations utilizing CDMA, and a 5ESS Lucent Switch for their network!

I'll keep you posted! If you have any info or something to add, please email me at peter at cellulartower dot com.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

New T Mobile site post!

I have just updated my main site with an unusual T Mobile site in Arlington, MA. This site is indicative of the type of unusual sites that T Mobile is adding in the area to boost their network in New England. The site is located at the Winchester Country Club, and when I saw the location, I was kind of surprised. To step back a little, one of the ways I find sites is to troll th cellular carriers own street coverage maps. When I noticed a strong signal on the T Mobile map at Cambridge Street in Winchester on the Arlington line, I was intrigued, since I know the area and know it is in a valley, and also is right next to Country Club property. I couldn't imagine a cell site being built anywhere near here, for both visual and signal concerns. I drove by to check it out, and was really surprised by what I found. Check it out here.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

T Mobile aggresive build out in New England!

I have noticed that a number, even a majority of the new sites I have been photographing and that I will be updating on the cellulartower.com main site have been TMobile sites. This is exactly what I discussed would happen in my Oct 2005 blog post, having had some good information from a former TMobile (Omnipoint) employee who had told me that with a influx of capital from Deutches Telecom, they would be adding hundreds of sites in New England over the next 3 years. Well, we are two years into it, and I can really see the difference. They have definitely added a number of sites in the last year, and I have some pictures of some sites that have not even been turned up yet. They also seem to be adding a number of 'unique' sites, such as on power poles, or on other structures and 'poles', not necessarily just on existing cell towers. There are still alot of holes for coverage, especially when you get outside the 495 belt, but most carriers have been working hard to fill these areas in, notably TMobile. I will announce soon the updates I make to the cellulartower.com main site to highlight some of these new towers!

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Long time, and I'm back!

There have been alot of changes in the wireless business since my last post. AT&T Wireless is back as the former Cingular Wireless. The Sprint/Nextel merger really hasn't amounted to much. They still run two different networks, and coverage is really not much improved for either. I will start updating hopefully on a more ongoing basis, until then, I think I still have alot of info in my previous posts, as well as on my cellulartower.com site.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Some new (long awaited) updates to site

Well, it's been a while, but I have made some updates to my web site. For one, I had to take my actual email address down from the site because of the incredible amount of spam I have been getting. I would say I get 800 to 1000 spam mail messages a week. It clogs up my email, and makes me have to sort thru them to make sure a 'real' email to me from a reader hasn't been swept up by my spam filter. I ended up formatting my email address as pete(at)cellulartower.com, with people having to determine where to put the @ symbol. (hint: it replaces the (at) in my address!)
Also, I have begun experimenting with adding close up aerial photos of the featured cell sites on my site. I am using a link to local.live.com , which has some of the closest photos included with thier online maps that I have seen. It has even come in handy for me to help me determine where there was access to a cell site road, or even if a site is located in someones property.
Check back soon for more updates!!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Cingular disappoints, TMobile builds!

As I stated in my last post, Cingular has disappointed me with their service problems re:TDMA. I am not sure if there GSM is any better, although I suspect they are having capacity issues, which is leading to these dropped calls and faulty handoffs (my phone now has a tendency to drive into a new site and not hand-off to a new tower, indicative of cells over capacity).
I have it on good authority that TMobile is expanding their network thruout New England, with a fresh influx of capital from Deutches Telecom, who owns a majority of TMobile. I understand they are adding 'hundreds' of sites thruout New England over the next three years! I am happy to see them add sites to there network, because that had always been their archillies heel. Maybe after this network expansion, they will truly be able to compete with the big boys, Verizon, Cingular, and Sprint-Nextel!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Cingular eliminating TDMA!?!

Cingular Wireless seems to be slowly eliminating it's existing TDMA towers, and running only the GSM towers in thier place. I currently have a TDMA Nokia phone that I purchased from AT&T Wireless. I was always able to recieve a TDMA signal, even after the aquisition by Cingular. My girlfriend has a GSM phone from the former AT&T. I often use my phone near an Arlington tower. Within the last two months, the TDMA signal is completely gone, and only the GSM signal remains. I originally thought they may have simply been servicing the TDMA equipment, but after a few months, have come to the realization the TDMA is gone, not to return again. I have also started to notice an increase in dropped calls in areas that I have never had that problem in before. I found it unusual that I could have a great signal in one spot, and a terrible signal in another, both where I had a good signal before, and my girlfriends GSM phone has a perfect signal. I understand that Cingular is eliminating the TDMA network, but I was told it would be 'many years' before I signed a two year contract. I am actively looking for other service/service provider. If anyone has any information on this (such as a Cingular employee), please feel free to post it here.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Verizon building new sites.....

Wow, you don't hear this everyday: Dave (who was checking out my website) complained to Verizon Wireless about the coverage in his area, around Wilmington, MA. Within two days, Verizon called him back, and said they knew they had bad coverage in that area of Wilmington, and that they were working on a new tower that should be going up in early 2006. That is in sharp contrast to my provider Cingular (formerly AT&T Wireless) who gave me the runaround when I called to complain that what used to be a strong signal in the Park Ave Arlington, MA area was now non-existent on my Nokia TDMA phone. My suspicion is that they have shut down the TDMA at that site, and now only use the GSM side. This is not good news for users like myself that like (for coverage, roaming, and other reasons) and still continue to use the TDMA service. Kudos to Verizon....

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sprint/Nextel, what next?

Wow, the Sprint / Nextel merger is complete. Who would have believed it would have happened so quickly?
This leaves us with four 'nationwide' cellular carriers: Sprint/Nextel, Verizon, Cingular and TMobile. I don't think we will see any reductions in celltowers from these carriers. If anything, I think we will see renewed buildouts in the near future.
In the New England area, the cellular companies have been responding to critiques from area politicians, including the govenor of Maine, and the mayor of Boston. This is leading to some streamlining of the buildout process, and maybe some more lenient licensing and permitting processes.
I have noticed more of the 'flagpole' style antennas, and more being placed on existing structures, since these are easier to get past a planning board than a new tower. I think most new towers are limited to more rural areas now.
If you see any new towers going up in your area, if in New England, let me know. I always love to get some photos of a tower under construction, or feel free to email me some photos (and save me the trip!).

Monday, July 04, 2005

Summer time tower news (slow)!

Wow, Its summer here in New England, and a great time to find some new towers. With the news coming out slowly on the Nextel/Sprint merger, and more consolidation in the tower industry, we should start to see more activity as the summer moves on.
There has not been alot of activity with the Cingular/AT&T merger, but I am sure we will start seeing the effect of that as well. I have not seen any new towers going up in my area, but I am sure with Verizon and Cingular both pushing the data envelope, they will start building to fill in the dead areas outside the cities. I will keep my eye's open, and report any changes as I see them!