The wireless world is experiencing many explosive changes in 2017, including the expectation that mobile data traffic over wireless systems will increase thousand-fold in the coming years, the effect this growth has on the number of cell sites needed to handle the traffic, how small antenna sites (with minimal demands for space) are utilized as a strategy to serve areas where traditional cell site facilities aren’t feasible, the entrance into the wireless market by a national satellite television operator and a new government-sponsored public safety network (the equivalent of another national carrier network), and the rapidly increasing value of fiber-optic transport systems joining traditional cell sites to small antenna facilities (fronthaul) and linking cell sites to mobile switching centers, data centers, and other network hubs (backhaul). Another trend is wireless carriers acquiring media companies, and recent announcements by cable television MSOs that they are getting into the wireless business. A logical question to ask is, “What’s driving the wireless mobile traffic explosion?”
The answer is two-fold. One driver is mobile video. Mobile video signals consume much greater amounts of wireless network transmission capacity than a voice conversation or standard email attachment. Video media transmissions have taxed the wireless thoroughfare in recent years, but they bring advertising dollars. The penetration of smartphones for ages thirteen and older has grown to 81 percent in the past twelve years.1 The other driver is the plethora of new data and remote-control applications that operate over wireless networks. Compared to the meteoric growth and impact of cellular phones and personal communications over the past thirty years, it can be said at this time, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” Proficient wireless site acquisition and permitting specialists are in high demand.