In plain sight: Providing connectivity from inside a cactus

By Scott September, New site Manager at AT&T Real Estate and Construction

 

Standing in the Arizona desert, you can see cacti for miles. If you look closely, one is not like the others.

In fact, the cactus next to you is an AT&T stealth antenna. Hidden beneath the specialty casing are multiple antennas that provide connectivity to surrounding areas, like a traditional cell site. But you’d never know by the look of it.

To maintain the natural ambience of communities we serve, we can hide cellular antennas in what we call “stealth sites.” They come in all forms: trees, rocks, water towers, church steeples and my favorite, cacti.

From planning to deploying, it all begins with a little cross-collaboration.

Before AT&T breaks ground on a stealth deployment, we work closely with the community. These sites require a larger investment than others, so everyone from citizens to city officials are involved. They weigh in on things like design, location, cost-sharing and the scope of the site, so our team can set—and try to meet—expectations.

Out here, building a stealth antenna starts at our nearby manufacturing facility in Tucson, Arizona.

To make a stealth site look as real as possible, our teams use several layers of putty and paint. Our goal is to get the texture and color just right, but also ensure it can withstand natural elements – from snowy Colorado to blistering Arizona.

Tower production takes 6-8 weeks and starts with constructing a particular mold. The molds quickly become 30-foot tall saguaro cacti or 80-foot tall redwood trees.

But these aren’t just steel giants.

The materials that cover the stealth antennas, like paint or faux-leaves, must be radio frequency-friendly. Stealth antennas designed to look like church steeples or water towers are mostly made of fiberglass. This lets the signal from the antennas penetrate through the casing.

These stealth deployments are just one of the many unique ways we provide coverage to our customers. So take a look outside, your connection may be closer than you think—hidden in plain sight!

Published on att.com

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