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Tower loading challenges wireless infrastrucure providers

LTE has brought waves of new projects to wireless infrastructure providers, but it has also brought a host of new challenges. These include manpower shortages and pressure to ‘self-perform” more parts of the contract. One of the biggest challenges for infrastructure service providers is the engineering effort required to add LTE technology to existing towers.

“With the LTE adds, the more challenging aspect of it today is really just the loading on the towers,” said Rick Suarez, group president of MasTec Network Solutions. Suarez said that many towers have already gone through the transition from GSM to UMTS, and now are supporting LTE as well. “When they were designed originally, they didn’t have the foresight to see the loads that were going to be required with LTE,” he said.

“LTE itself has brought in more complexity, because we’ve taken the radio head that was once sitting in the bottom of the compound and, for the most part, taken it up to the tower top,” said Suarez.

“The antennas themselves are growing in size, growing in the technology that’s built into them, adding to the weight of the structure, getting us more into structural adds,” he said. Tower builders typically check the wind speed rating in an area before they build, but as more weight is added to the tower top, the structure’s resistance to wind can change. This is especially true if weight is added to an extension rather than at the center of the tower top.

“It just ultimately creates more need for having more time up front for designing the work to be able to get it done in time,” explained Suarez. In the interview below, Suarez also discusses site acquisition, worker safety, and technician and climber recruiting.


Martha DeGrasse
Martha DeGrasse
Martha DeGrasse is the publisher of Network Builder Reports ( At RCR, Martha authored more than 20 in-depth feature reports and more than 2,400 news articles. She also created the Mobile Minute and the 5 Things to Know Today series. Prior to joining RCR Wireless News, Martha produced business and technology news for CNN and Dow Jones in New York and managed the online editorial group at Hoover’s Online before taking a number of years off to be at home when her children were young. Martha is the board president of Austin's Trinity Center and is a member of the Women's Wireless Leadership Forum.

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