The Future of Cell Towers: Could Advancements in Cellular Technology Make Cell Towers as We Know Them Obsolete?

April 15th, 2016 by · 8 Comments

This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Lease Advisors

With talk of a 5G mobile network slated to launch sometime in 2020, cellular carriers and consumers in the know are equally delighted: 5G will mean more than 10 times the current capacity of even the best 4G LTE. Still, with the announcement of this and other technological advancements, some are concerned about what the debut of new technology could mean for the cellular industry as we know it.

image001While there are technologies that could augment cell towers, some experts in the field suggest there are ways to relay data that could replace towers altogether. But when we take a reality-based look at cell tower alternatives, none of them really seem feasible, even in the distant future of a 5G, 6G, or even 7G world.

Some suggest that tower sites will eventually be hosted in outer space — that carriers will work with tech experts to create cell towers that won’t need to be anchored to Earth. We already have much of what it takes in terms of know-how to accomplish this but building out the infrastructure would come with an incredible price tag, making this option unviable due to its (literally) astronomical cost. The cost to launch just several hundred towers into the stratosphere would surpass more than a billion US dollars, and that expense doesn’t account for technological upgrades and any necessary repairs that would require some hybrid of astronaut and cell tower technician to fix; another inordinate cost.

There is also the impending technology that will allow mobile and handheld devices to “find one another”. Some pundits say this could also waive the need for cell towers; but again, that theory seems lacking in merit. Sure, device-to-device tech will help with geo-location and could augment low signal areas, but at the end of the line, there is always a tower propping up the entire schema.

One thing that will assuredly happen is that there will continue to be more and more cell towers and perhaps even larger towers will be needed to support these advancements in technology. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that smaller towers will suddenly become unnecessary; carrier’s needs, evolving technology, and industry consolidation are realities that can and will continue to affect the evolution of the industry as a whole.

Lease Advisors 2014 plain_logo Lease Advisors is the premier cell tower lease consultancy firm in the world, offering the most competitive payouts for cellular site buyout and billboard lease buyout transactions.




If you haven't already, please take our Reader Survey! Just 3 questions to help us better understand who is reading Telecom Ramblings so we can serve you better!

Categories: Industry Viewpoint · Towers · Wireless

Join the Discussion!

8 Comments So Far

  • Laurie says:

    I would think that with advancements in technology, advancements would need to be made with the towers – but I don’t see them becoming obsolete any time soon at all. Thanks for sharing.

    • John says:

      I don’t think so eather . I have one in my back yard and the tower company wants a buyout really bad . If they thought they were going to take it down they wouldn’t be offering me 12 yrs of payments

  • check here says:

    It’s hard to come by knowledgeable people for this topic, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about!


  • SolarManJD says:

    You will need a monumental leap in RF/data casting ability before even thinking of moving further away from receiving unit…We are working on the next step in Wireless Induction charging that will breath even more life into cell tower technology…WERD Wireless Electric Rural Distribution

  • Frances Tinsley says:

    Do you know a cell tower attorney that could renegotiate my lease on my cell tower that is due in 2018? I am in California.

    • Rob Turner says:

      Hi Frances:

      My firm has a good bit of experience advising property owners with their leases. My website has more information on the practice and you can contact me through the site if you’d like to set up an intro conversation.

      Thank you, Rob Turner

  • Towers will be less required. Drones with orthogonal technology will receive Microwave from ground based systems attached to fiber which will distribute and allocate bandwidth by clustering and separating.

    Already being tested.

    • Mike says:

      Hi Straight Shooter, do you expect that the economics of the orthogonal Drones will justify replacing existing towers, compliment them, or reduce the need for new towers?

Leave a Comment

You may Log In to post a comment, or fill in the form to post anonymously.

  • Ramblings’ Jobs

    Post a Job - Just $99/30days
  • Event Calendar