Smaller cell towers mean bigger coverage areas

A woman uses her cell phone in Boston while walking down the street.

TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Ever wonder why that cell phone of yours dumps out at the most inopportune times? Those unsightly transmission towers look like they produce a big signal. But it can be very hard to find a place for them to go which leaves a lot of coverage gaps. Now the wireless industry says it's found a way to fill in the gaps. With much smaller antennas that can be hung on lampposts or buildings. Some small enough to hold in your hand. And wireless companies are demonstrating how they work in Barcelona, Spain, this week at the world's largest cell phone trade show.

Weston Henderek is an analyst for the telecom research firm Current Analysis. And he's with us now. Good morning.

WESTON HENDEREK: Hi how are you.

CHIOTAKIS: Doing well. These cell towers that could basically fit in the palm of your hand -- what does that mean for mobile phone companies?

HENDEREK: There's several really good implications here. As you know, right now with the huge towers that we've got there's all kinds of issues with local areas approving these new towers and it's very hard for the wireless carriers to kind of navigate this so you end up with a situation where there may be gaps and holes in different areas that wouldn't necessarily be there if it was easier to put these towers up.

CHIOTAKIS: Why is it so hard, Weston to put these towers up?

HENDEREK: Well, really it comes down to local areas and people saying, "Look I don't want these things in my back yard." They're ugly, they don't know what the implications are in terms of the power they're putting out. Everybody gets worried about all those sorts of things, so it just makes it very hard for carriers to get approval to put these things up and its a very long process so it definitely has a negative impact in terms of how quickly they can deploy these things and give better coverage to people around the country.

CHIOTAKIS: What about consumers Weston, I mean is this going to be a good thing for you and me?

HENDEREK: Yeah, over all it will be. Having multiple towers of different sizes deployed in lots of different areas should in the long run increase overall coverage and lead to better signals and better battery life on their devises. And also relieve congestion so that there's fewer dropped calls and it's easier to get through and do your emails and texting.

CHIOTAKIS: Weston Henderek with the research firm Current Analysis. Weston thanks.

HENDEREK: Thank you.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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