Ever ask yourself, “What is a phone mast?“. A phone mast can have various different names, for example, cell tower, mobile phone mast site, mobile base station, or radio tower. Phone masts are typically made from galvanized steel and are required to provide signals to and from mobile devices such as phones, computers and tablets.  A phone mast transmits and receives signals normally via antennae systems, microwave dishes and other electronic communications equipment, which can include cabins, cabinets, feeder cables, racks, RRUs (Remote Radio Units), fibre optic cables and specific hardware and software needed to allow the current UK licenced mobile phone operators to provide 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G signals to their customers.

The geographic area that a phone mast provides coverage to is called a cell. These cells then connect into what is called a cellular network. Phone masts generally have a life span of around 30 years and are subject to annual health and safety checks, so they are maintained properly and safe to climb.

In this article, we will explain what a phone is and describe the several types of phone masts:

Standalone Phone Masts
(Greenfield Sites)

The average height can range from 12 m – 15 m in height. However, in some cases, they can exceed 100 m. The most common form of standalone masts is Lattice Towers and Monopoles. Lattice towers are normally larger pylon-type structures and are more visibly obtrusive, but these towers can generally accommodate more equipment and are easier to upgrade and redevelop and can house numerous operators. Monopoles are often more discreet and less visibly obtrusive, but often limited by the amount of equipment and number of mast operators that can be placed on the tower.

Existing Structures
(Rooftop Site)

These phone masts are usually deployed on existing buildings and structures like blocks of flats, commercial property, water towers or pylons. The advantage is often a cost saving on construction and the planners generally prefer to see existing structures being utilized, as opposed to giving planning consent for new structures and phone masts. Rooftop phone masts can include some or all of the following; stub masts, pole-mounted antenna, surface-mounted antenna and flagpoles.

Microcell Sites

These are very small sites that provide coverage to a narrow area like the inside of a building or a particular street. They are often very discreet and, in some cases, can look like a burglar alarm box.

Stealth Design Phone Masts

These phone masts are normally deployed in sensitive areas, such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and conservation areas. They can be disguised as many things like fake trees, clocks or flag poles. These sites are only used as a last resort, as they are generally more expensive and restricted with the coverage they can provide.

Streetworks Phone Mast

These are deployed on the public highway. They are often disguised to match the existing street furniture, and often the only visible difference is the equipment cabinets at ground level. The advantage to the mobile phone operators is they do not need to pay a landlord an annual rent for these sites. The disadvantage is, that they are restricted with the coverage and the number of operators they can accommodate.

Unfortunately, the UK has a shortage of phone masts. This means many rural areas have no mobile phone signal. In addition to the lack of phone masts, the mobile phone operators are very slow to upgrade the existing sites in the UK to allow 4G and now 5G technology. This means other countries are now a lot more advanced than the UK with their mobile phone mast infrastructure and are now already enjoying faster and more widespread coverage, with all the social and economic benefits this brings.

If you have a phone mast on your land or property, please contact us today for a free consultation.