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Range of a 5G cell antenna


Cities and counties have the right to limit the number and placement of cell antennas to only as many as are technologically needed to enable phone calls, texts, etc. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 preserves local zoning authority. Such a limitation does not constitute an effective prohibition of personal wireless service. (See endnote 1.)

How many cell antennas are really needed? That of course depends on the range of a cell antenna; meaning, how far does its signals reach? Most “small cells” are both 4G and 5G, to simplify it. 5G is an infrastructure intended to enable wireless companies to collect data on the whereabouts and web surfing and spending habits of cell phone users. They use this data and sell it to other corporations for marketing purposes.

4G cell towers and antennas use lower frequencies (thus longer wavelengths) than what’s known as 5G. But 5G antennas rely on 4G antennas to guide them, which is why “small cells” contain both. 4G is not going away any time soon and in fact the industry is aggressively installing many thousands more of them.

What is the range of a 5G cell antenna? The carriers’ representatives who appear at Planning Commission and City Council meetings are not under oath as they should be. They often make false statements about the range of their antennas, because they can and because often the Commissioners and Council Members trust them and do not know any better. Then the Commissioners, Council Members and staff take those false statements as true and make policy decisions based on them. The result is MORE cell antennas than are really necessary for the system to work.

Lowell McAdam was the CEO of Verizon at the time of this interview with CNBC, which was in mid 2018. The interviewer asks him a question about whether it is really necessary to place a cell antenna 25′ from a home. McAdam’s answer addresses that and other “myths of millimeter waves,” as he calls them. What he says about the range of a modern cell antenna is, “We are now designing the system for over 2,000′ from transmitter to receiver.” A cell antenna is both a transmitter and receiver. So is a cell phone. What he means is 2,000′ from the antenna to where people’s phones are. In other words a cell antenna will reach a cell phone that far away.

Finally on this subject it is important to note that the 2,000′ range is not a theoretical or calculated number. It is their conclusion based on more than a year of testing in 11 American cities. All of the geographical features and things that you would find in most American cities are taken into account, such as buildings, cars, trucks, houses and trees.

Some cities have steep mountains and I don’t know if Verizon’s 11 American cities included those features. The 2,000′ range is from Verizon’s real world experience. Overall city elected officials and planners should use this figure to make policy decisions. You can disregard the claims that carriers’ representatives often make that the waves only travel about 500′ because those claims are false.

This page contains two videos: one of an interview with McAdam and one of a demonstration by a Verizon engineer name Jason, who demonstrates that the range is 3,000′ with a line of sight test.

The title of the video is “Verizon CEO On The Future Of 5G CNBC.”  Scroll down to watch it.

Starting at 5:29 in the video the interviewer asks Mr. McAdam, “Can you get through trees?  Can you get through leaves?  Can you actually get somewhere were you don’t need cell sites ev, you know 25 feet from my house?”

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam:  “Yeah well those were some of what I call the myths of millimeter wave, because no one thought that was good, and by the way we’re the only ones that have it now so it’s to their advantage to say it’s no good.”

“When [Verizon] went out in these 11 [5G test] markets, we tested for well over a year,
so we could see every part of foliage and every storm that went through. We have now
busted the myth that [5G frequencies] have to be line-of-sight — they do not. We busted
the myth that foliage will shut [5G] down . . . that does not happen.
And the 200 feet
from a home? We are now designing the network for over 2,000 feet from
transmitter to receiver
, which has a huge impact on our capital need going forward.
Those myths have disappeared.”

(Here it is verbatim.)

5:29 CNBC interviewer, “Can you get through trees?  Can you get through leaves?  Can you actually get somewhere were you don’t need cell sites ev, you know 25 feet from my house?”

5:38  Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam:

“Yeah well those were some of what I call the myths of millimeter wave, because no one thought that was good, and by the way we’re the only ones that have it now so it’s to their advantage to say it’s no good.”

“When we went out in these 11 markets, we tested for well over a year so we could see every part of foliage, every storm that went through. We have now busted the myth that it has to be line-of-sight.  It does not. We busted the myth that foliage will shut it down. I mean that was back in the days when a pine needle would stop it.  That does not happen.

And the 200 feet from a home? We’re now designing the network for over 2,000 feet from
transmitter to receiver, which has a huge impact on our capital need going forward.
So those myths have disappeared.”

6:25

https://youtu.be/31gpCcbklHw?t=315

Another statement about the range of a Verizon 5G cell antenna comes from Jason L., Verizon Field Engineer in the second video.  Jason says:

“[Verizon 5G] is really high frequency [28,000 MHz and 39,000 MHz], so everybody
thinks it doesn’t go very far, but it’s a really big pipe and so that’s what allows you to
gain the super fast speeds . . We’re 3,000 feet away from our radio node. the cool thing
about this is that we did not move the radio node. It’s pointing down to serve the
customers in that area ” . . . here
even 3,000 feet away, we’re still getting 1,000
[Megabits per second] speeds
. . . So now we’ve driven about 1/3 of a mile away [1,760
feet ]
from the radio node. we are still getting very good speeds even though we have
foliage in between [800 Megabits per second]
.”

The same quoted statements are also contained in these longer videos.

CNBC: 6/25/18 — Verizon CEO, Lowell McAdam, on The Future of 5G

https://youtu.be/31gpCcbklHw?t=5m15s

Verizon: 5/23/18 — The Power (and Reach) of 28 GHz and 39 GHz Millimeter Waves

https://youtu.be/jnyG2bliKCs?t=30s 

Endnote 1

Cities have broad regulatory powers preserved by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TCA) (47 U.S.C.§332. (c)(7)(A)) The City can regulate cell antenna placement as long as such regulation does not “prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the ability of any entity to provide any interstate or intrastate telecommunications service.” (47 U.S.C.§253.(a)), “shall not prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services.” (47 U.S.C.§332. (c)(7)(B)(i)(II))