This affects you if you rely on cell phones to connect with your family, friends, or work. It affects you if you use your cell phone during emergencies or just to look up directions or local businesses. This is your opportunity to get better wireless service for you and your neighbors.
All Pittsburgh residents benefit from improved Verizon Wireless service, even non-Verizon Wireless customers. First, the small cell network will relieve congestion on the Verizon Wireless network serving Pittsburgh by providing additional capacity to address demands for service. This added capacity improves Verizon Wireless’s network for all of Pittsburgh by off-loading calls and data demands from existing facilities. Second, these enhancements will improve network service for Pittsburgh first responders. Finally, should another wireless carrier’s network fail, the Verizon Wireless network is available to all users for emergency calls and text messages.
First responders leverage the Verizon Wireless Network for vital communications across a broad range of emergency situations from the police accessing critical criminal justice information in the field, to providing access to dispatching software in police, fire, and EMS vehicles across the city.
At home, the Verizon Wireless Network is leveraged for more than staying connected with friends and family or entertainment online. The Network supports home security monitoring, connectivity for home health monitoring devices or even tracking a lost pet.
90% of US households use wireless service. With this increase in demand from users at home and those who work from home comes the need for more facilities to meet the customer needs. Citizens need access to 911 and reverse 911 and wireless may be their only connection. (CTIA, June 2015)
To stay ahead of demand, Verizon is deploying new technology, commonly referred to as small cells. A small cell network adds coverage, capacity, and increases connection speed so that more users can connect to reliable high-speed wireless service where they live, work and play. Small cells are part of a macro-micro cellular communication coverage umbrella enabling information flow between traditional cell sites and small cells. This architecture provides higher quality of service and increased capacity to a dedicated geographic location. Small cell architecture enhances the network for users in the selected geographic small cell area. The increased communication quality benefits customers during normal communication use and emergencies.
Small cells are a fraction of the size of traditional communication facilities, use a fraction of the power and serve a much smaller area than traditional cell sites. The reduced size allows the small cells to attach to existing utility poles and light standards.
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Small Cells blend into a city’s landscape using existing infrastructure like utility poles or street lights, or new poles in the public right-of-way.
Since the launch of the smart phone more than 10 years ago, Verizon Wireless has been introducing new technologies to meet service capacity demands. Today, reliable service and in-building coverage are essential to the everyday lives of Pittsburgh-area residents, commuters and workers. Over the past year, the demand for Verizon Wireless voice and data services has nearly doubled, and network enhancements are required to keep up with this ever‐increasing demand. Maintaining a highly reliable, high-speed, high-capacity network is also critical to emergency communications. Pittsburgh residents, commuters and workers depend on this reliability of the Verizon Wireless network, especially to communicate with emergency professionals during times of crisis – including police, fire, ambulance and hospital calls.
What is a small cell?
A small cell is just like the name implies. Small cells are short range mobile cell sites used to complement larger macro cells (or cell towers). A small cell augments Verizon’s capacity in a given area. It consists of a radio, antenna, power and a fiber connection. Small cells enable the Verizon network team to strategically add capacity to high traffic areas. Small cells can also be used to provide coverage in difficult to reach areas.
Why small cells?
Demand for wireless data services has grown 18 fold over the past 5 years. Small cells are part of Verizon’s network strategy to provide reliable service and keep up with this booming demand for wireless data. Small cell networks add capacity in small specific areas to improve in-building coverage, voice quality, reliability, and data speeds for local residents, businesses, first responders and visitors using the Verizon Wireless network.
How does it work?
A small cell uses small radios and antennas placed on various types of poles like utility poles, street lights, or new poles in the public right-of-way. The coverage area can range from a few hundred feet to upwards of 1,000 ft. depending on topography, capacity needs, and more. This small focused footprint supports the latest technology-enabled devices, allowing more consumers to use the network for ever more data reliant applications such as health monitoring, location services, and enhanced social media services.
Does this replace the need for macro cell sites?
For Verizon, small cells are part of a balanced approach to network coverage and capacity. Small cells compliment a macro cell network. As a network matures both small cells and macro cells are added where needed. Macro sites provide broad coverage, while small cells provide localized coverage in difficult to reach areas and localized capacity in areas of high demand.
Where will Verizon add small cells?
Verizon Wireless engineers design small cell networks to add needed capacity to meet rising demand and to provide coverage in hard to reach areas. As a result, small cell networks are designed for areas ranging from urban centers to residential neighborhoods.
When will small cells be installed in Pittsburgh and when will the work occur?
Verizon Wireless plans to install small cells in Pittsburgh within the next 12 months. Traffic and parking disruptions will be minimal, as work will be completed in phases to minimize local impacts.
Are small cell applications reviewed by the City?
Yes, Verizon Wireless must obtain permits to install small cells in accordance with the Pittsburgh permitting process and design guidelines.
Are small cells reviewed for compliance with FCC safety guidelines?
Yes. All small cells must comply with the same stringent standards under which macro communications sites are reviewed and regulated.
Are small cells safe?
The Federal Communications Commission, in consultation with multiple federal agencies, sets federal government safety standards regarding small cells. Those standards have wide safety margins and are designed to protect everyone, including children, and were established after close examination of research that scientists in the US and around the world conducted for decades. The research continues to this day, and agencies continue to monitor it.
Scientists have studied potential health effects of RF emissions from cell phones for decades. Based on all the research, federal agencies have concluded that equipment that complies with the safety standards poses no known health risks. And advisers to the World Health Organization have specifically concluded that the same goes for 5G equipment. In fact, the RF safety standards adopted by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are even more conservative than the levels adopted by some international standards bodies.
FCC: The FCC provides information about the safety of RF emissions from cellular base stations on its website at: http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety/rf-faqs.html.
FDA: The Food and Drug Administration’s Cell phone website
EPA: The Environmental Protection Agency’s overview of cell phone safety: Cell phone safety