‘Small cell towers’ improving service, preparing Hoover for 5G

Local News

HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — Bobbie Buchanan is one of the millions of Americans who use her cell phone every day.

“It seems like whenever you have downtime, you’re on your phone,” said Buchanan.

By that same token, she has also experienced the white-knuckling pain of being unable to use her phone as well.

“It’s very frustrating when [a call] drops out and you don’t have service,” she acknowledged.

A “small cell tower” located on Highway 31 in Hoover

But, if you drive around Hoover, you may have noticed these poles pictured to the right popping up all over the place.

As Hoover City Councilor Mike Shaw explains, they are called “small cell towers.”

“The old towers are getting overwhelmed, particularly in areas of high traffic like we see in Hoover,” said Shaw. “So [the cell phone companies are] deploying the ‘small cells’ to cover and make up the difference in the capacity.”

Shaw estimates that there are over 80 of the towers in Hoover right now, which are bolstering the signals of various carriers.

But the move isn’t just about improving signal strength — it is also about setting the city up for the future.

When watching television, it is hard to miss the commercials advertising the new 5G cell service that is in the process of being rolled out. Shaw claims that the “small cell towers” are required for the 5G service to operate, which is why he believes Hoover will be primed and poised to take advantage of the new technology.

“It’s fiber optic speeds through the air going to your phone,” said Shaw. “Smart cars and all things we hear about are going to rely on this 5G technology, so we wanted to make sure that Hoover was the first to get 5G.”

Verizon Wireless has already launched its 5G service in cities such as Minneapolis and Chicago and intends to expand soon.

For everyday cell phone users like Bobbie Buchanan, the news is exciting.

“That’s awesome!” exclaimed Buchanan. “I don’t think cell phones are going away so the better the service the better mood everyone is in and it will be very helpful.”

Shaw tells CBS 42 that thanks to a passed ordinance, new towers can be built in Hoover quickly. Shaw estimates that the city could have over 100 “small cell towers” by the second quarter of 2020.

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