5G is gearing up to be the most extensive implementation of mesh networking ever, and that could mean antennas will not need to broadcast for miles, just far enough to reach some devices. That unsightly cell infrastructure stuck on water towers and church steeples could soon be hidden under low-profile hunks of metal we are already used to seeing; manhole covers. This makes sense because 5G’s millimeter radio waves are more or less line-of-sight, and cell users probably wouldn’t want to lose connectivity every time they walk behind a building.
At the moment, Vodafone in the UK is testing similar 4G antennas and reaching 195 megabits/sec download speeds. Each antenna covers a 200-meter radius and uses a fiber network because, courtesy of existing underground infrastructure. There is some signal loss from transmitting and receiving beneath a slab of metal, but that will be taken into account when designing the network. The inevitable shift to 5G will then be a relatively straightforward matter of lifting the old antennas out and laying the new hardware inside, requiring only a worker and a van instead of a construction crew.
We want to help you find all the hidden cell phone antennas and pick your own cell module.
Via IEEE Spectrum.
60 thoughts on “Manhole Covers Hide Antennas”
Line of sight is what matters… so you put them on the ground? Not the most optimal location but if you can’t put it on a utility pole I guess it works. Probably more of a getting around regulation for pole sharing and building roof rental than a technical desire.
Solar Roadways all over again ;)
You won’t find many utility poles in cities in Europe (the article referred to tests in the UK), utilities are usually buried.
in UK you can just use surveillance camera poles instead
Depending where one is, there may not BE utility poles, even in the US. This has a lot of convenience factor, as well, as the fibre is likely already there, and power is probably there for other equipment, so no significant need to run new lines. No need to attach to a building. Basically, plug it in, drop it in the hole, and put a cover on. The availability of fibreglass utility vault/manhole covers for many applications will likely be taken advantage of where practical, as well.
Well in the UK generally there isn’t anything running through sewerage / storm drains other than water/waste. The idea of sharing the pipes with the utilities is a nice one that doesn’t often come to fruitation. Hense why Musk seems to think he might be able to work his business model around providing exactly that.
I’m sure lots of people will point me to various sources of news on how all the utilities are going to work together and use the same piping, but in reality it’s not yet happened.
No, but here in the States, you will see manhole covers for electrical and communication “man”holes. Often they are identified in the cover design.
Years ago, I saw a book about New York City manhole covers. While it wasn’t a large book, there were enough different designs and purposes that it would take a book to describe them all.
Oh, I found a link
The carriers are generally already CLECs. As such already have access to the poles, so the regulatory requirements are already in place.
Its not about accessibility.
story time: Company I briefly worked for did radio broadband, basically we’d come out to your house and point the antenna at the nearest broadcasting tower and you got relatively high speed internet. The range was a few miles but line of sight was almost always a problem, if there was too many obstructions the signal would be relatively weak and likely to fail very often so the solution to this is more broadcast towers right?
As we installed more broadcast towers,up on top of buildings and towers we started to get complaints about radiowave radiation. Not like a few mind you, we went from usually dealing with 10-15 radio reception complaints a month to maybe having a few hundred complaints about the broadcast towers. We had complaints from people who used the same broadcast towers to get their internet and local politicians that didn’t give a shit that it was harmless only that his constituents were complaining. The solution was relatively simple, you hide the towers.
So we had a Californian based company come over and fabricate less obvious towers, we even ended up buying transmitters that could be hidden in lamp posts. The volume of complaints went down. The handful of people that claimed the towers were making them sick stopped complaining and even said they got heather all while this https://i.imgur.com/jXOTPan.jpg was at the end of their street.
(image sourced from https://julianoliver.com/output/stealth-cell-tower)
The smart meter people are having to deal with that problem. Out of sight, out of mind really does apply sometimes.
Sometimes it is a psychological problem rather than an engineering or public health issue.
It is great that you guys were able to identified the problem and address it.
It is usually good for business to have satisfied customers.
Should work better with the quiet fiberglass lids. Some areas require underground utilities only. No poles except lights.
This will work fine until someone parks on top of it
I don’t think cars make a good RF shield.
Couple to the car and use it as a reradiator. Intermittently.
uk has also had issues with people stealing the regular covers – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-40159520 not sure about swapping them out with something worth more than scap iron!
Regular covers are sitting ducks for thieves.
Thieves are sitting ducks for 5G covers,
A 5G piece of scrap iron can call security in an instant.
A stolen 5G base station is worth bugger all to anyone unless they’re running a 5G network – and those guys aren’t buying stolen gear.
This is true for a lot of crap that is left around on street corners, and other places. Yet crackheads will steal anything just to get a fix…
Probably be worth something to hackers intent on setting up their own rogue base station?
It is probably only a remote radio head. Depending on which one it can be used as an SDR (look up vita49). The performance is very good, but they generally cover only a very small piece of licensed spectrum so not much hobbyist usage is possible.
Some small cell radios are a full base station that you can connect to a core network and it should work as, well, a base station…
GPS chips are cheap; add periodic ‘here I am!’ signals.
Fiberglass covers wouldn’t have any scrap metal value.
Something similar is happening in Australia but they are using pole mounted small antennas. They only need council approval without public consultation and don’t have to comply with federal emissions regulations.
Some residents are protesting about these antennas radiating power directly at their house 24/7.
It seems lie the UK solution is to hide them completely to avoid people making informed decisions.
People make UNINFORMED decisions from groundless fear in this regard when they see the antennas. So it is a good thing to hide the antennas from sight, although this reduces their efficiency. It spares the people unnecessary headaches when they do not see them. Think of the cases of people complaining about headaches and even digestion problems after the erection of a new cell tower. The answer of the technicians:” That’s not good, how bad will this get, when we even install the transmitters in the tower.” :-) So just by fear and nocebo effect people feel sick only because they SEE antennas which are not even operational.
Agreed that there are people who will gripe about anything. On the other hand, there are biological effects related to cell towers. This study was done with amputees, but other effects are possible.
But around here, I find it “interesting” that cell towers cannot be places at less than X meters of schools, but nobody forbids the children at those schools to spend every free minute glued to their cell phones.
Yes, and I have to cite one of my teachers from university (HF and communications engineering) about people which are afraid of the base stations: “If you compare the amount of power, you get from your phone to a postage parcel, the power you get from the cell tower is comparable to the stamp on it” (due to the 1/r² law).
Don’t forget that the phones will throttle their transmitters to use the minimum power required to reach the cell site. Having a nearby cell site usually reduces the net radiation a cell phone user is exposed to. He may be exposed to more radiation from the tower, but he’s exposed to less from the transmitter he’s holding next to his head.
There are logical fallacies including tunnel vision and post hoc, ergo pocter hoc (after, therefore because of). “I felt anxious about the antenna, I feel sick, therefore I am sick because of the antenna”. Ignoring the six beers and hot wings they had yesterday, the flu going around the office, their staying up late (sleep deprivation impacts health), living on Mountain Dew and chips, etc.
I would trust an epidemiologist far more than the average person.
I don’t see that… A block of 1cm of metal over the antenna, and surrounded by concrete… and in 800-2100MHz range of frequencies… I don’t see how that can work.
Only at very short range and hugely inefficient I would guess.
Another method to get more cost effective hack able surveillance gear out in the market with more environmental camouflage diversionary tactics capabilities.
Even if the source signals are from other gear that uses heterodyne or pulse train sources from higher, or other, magnetic, electronic, nuclear, rotational and/or vibrational systems most don’t, or can’t, cost effectively detect.
The 5G approved frequency range disturbs me because if those signals get phased synchronized from combined sources, if not directly collimated, to pinpoint or even small focal points… that can result in really Active Denial System dangerous.
U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command FOIA Request proving knowledge of bio-effects of “selected” nonlethal weapons (note the verbiage notes the same weapons can be lethal if you read carefully)
Then there is the ES/TS/ELINT capabilities for other EW operations to further paramilitarize civil jurisdiction:
Then the Soviet electronic heroin to cause amnesic effects potential so we all feel good with dying: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22926874
Another excuse to crank up the power!?
What happens if a self-driving car, packed with delicate electronics, drives over such an antenna?
The Netflix player inside switces to the higher resolution stream.
You say they nick the covers in the UK, something I had not even heard of – meanwhile check the news for the many cases of stolen RAIL tracks in Bulgaria, I think it’s worse there, ha-ha
It’s not a competition Peter! ????
In the UK somebody stole the lead roof off an old church. And people have been electrocuted trying to steal copper wire that was live.
That manhole cover in the photo looks nothing like what I’d identify as a manhole cover. It looks like the entry to a vault, placed in grass rather than in the middle of a road.
I’m sure utilities are different everywhere, but how applicable will this trick be, in places where manholes have to stand up to truck traffic?
Yeah look like the entrance to cerebro
Like a system theme for a wireless version of this (like no electrodes, I guess impedance and matching the nerve cluster):
Is there some absolute requirement to place them in the street?
Not too bad in theory, but if this approach becomes widely used, there will be a lot of stolen manhole stations.
Personal 5G-station anybody? Must be cool to have in the garden.
Ahh After 10,000 years I’m free! Time to conquer Earth!
Until now nobody was able to convince me that we actually NEED 5G. They should rather install more fiber optical lines to houses than pump even more HF-crap in the air.
Exactly! 5G is a technology looking for a market. It seems to me that 5G’s only potential market is the most densely occupied areas of Manhattan, Chicago and London where users are outdoors and primarily stationary. 5G is, in my opinion just a marketing ploy. AT&T has the best solution – just sticking 5G stickers on phones to lure the naive.
I’ll get excited about 5G when the coverage around me is 3G and more than 1 signal bar.
Hate to tell you, but you have less of a chance of getting covered by the relatively short range of 5G. 5G is for densely populated areas.
Let’s just hope they don’t hire a greenhorn mechanical engineer for the load analysis. The current ones are so over designed it is not funny – throw some FEA into the mix and we can ‘fix’ that…..
If there’s copper inside, those things will practically fly out of the ground as the junkies start stealing them. If they’re willing to cut railroad track, street signs and air conditioners up/off and cart them away, these are just one more chance to get another 5$ from a disreputable scrap dealer.
There for sure is not only copper in it, but also gold :-) but not very much.
The only way you’re going to stop junkies from stealing stuff is through de-prohibition and treating it as a legitimate medical condition I’m afraid. There’s always gonna be something to steal for people fueling an insanely addictive $500-a-day habit.
I’m sure there’s other expensive habits one can substitute. It’s not like people who think it’s OK to steal are suddenly going to be church boys if they can get cheap fixes.
As I mention above in the UK someone stole the entire lead roof off of an old church.
Where I live we must have constant surveillance in the cemeteries/graveyards because the metal scrapping junkies regularly steal the bronze/brass letters off the grave stones. They also stole the holy water-basin in our church.
Sadly thats no joke.
Manhole covers filled with electronics and precious metals would be gone in less than a week.
Would not be a good idea to stand on these manhole covers for long if you wanted to have children in the future…..
Yeah.. Not sure I would want to be sitting on top of one of these while waiting for the lights to change…
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