Installing new GSM base stations - photos

Obviously there is a lot of forward planning in installing a new base station. The network operator (or contractor working on their behalf) has to choose a site, based on what is available, and on the computerised coverage predictions. Whether it's going to be shared with an existing transmitter or at a new site, it has to be cleared with the planners. The installation, as well as power supply and network connection ("backhaul") all have to be considered.

So, once a site is chosen, the equipment has to be put in place. I'm following the development of four new sites, two of which are for BT Cellnet. One is being installed on an existing tower for Orange, and the other on the top of a building (on a car park's lift shaft). The third is a new Orange pole. The fourth, and most recent (2004) is a new greenfield Vodafone site.

ATTENTION: All of the GSM photos on this site were taken from outside fenced enclosures. Some of the photos have been taken using a zoom lens which look like they were taken from closer to the subject than is actually the case! Once again, a reminder that it is dangerous and illegal to enter transmitter enclosures. If you are in doubt about what this means then avoid antenna installations altogether.

New BT Cellnet install on car park building

Stage 1 - September 1998: Three poles are mounted on the walls of the lift shaft, awaiting transmission antenna. Safety railings, ladder, cable duct, and inlet for cables into building are all put in place.

Stage 1a - Sept 98 - in close-up - poles in place awaiting antennae installation (14.1K)
Stage 1b - Sept 98 - wider view - poles in place awaiting antennae installation (17.4K)

Stage 2 - September 1998: Three directional antennae are put in place, cables are run along the cable duct, through the inlet, awaiting installation of transmission equipment inside.

Stage 2 - Sept 98 - after antennae have been fitted (10.3K)
Stage 2 - Sept 98 - alternative view, after install of antennae (14K)

Stage 3 - December 1998: Transmitter equipment installed and earth line in place.

Stage 3 - Dec 98 - DMN installing transmission equipment (13K)
Stage 3 - Dec 98 - earth line in place (16K + 11K)

Base station on air 20th January 1999 - no more pictures to add.

New BT Cellnet install on existing Orange mast

Stage 1 - August 1998: Attachments for two BT Cellnet directional antennae and one microwave dish (a smaller attachment) are fixed in place on the Orange mast.

Stage 1 - Aug 98 - Attachments for antennae appear (19.0K)

Stage 2 - September 1998: A site is cleared for the new transmission equipment. A foundation is laid for the TX equipment and the mains cabinet. An underground duct leads between the two. Earth cabling is run through from the existing Orange installation. Transmission cable duct/guide is put in place between the site of the transmission equipment cabinet and onto the Orange mast, running up to where the antennae will be installed.

Stage 2a - Sept 98 - Site cleared and foundation in place (31.0K)
Stage 2b- Sept 98 - Earth cabling is run through (35.3K)
Stage 2c - Sept 98 - Duct in foundation ready for power cables (34.0K)
Stage 2d - Sept 98 - Transmission cable duct/guide in place (31.7K)

Stage 3 - September 1998: New fencing has been put in place around the BT Cellnet equipment, and some removed from the surround of the Orange enclosure to form a new, single, larger, secure enclosure.

Stage 3a - Sept 98 - new fencing in place, creating a single enclosure (24K)
Stage 3b - Sept 98 - new fencing in place, creating a single enclosure - side view (42K)

Stage 4 - October 1998: transmission equipment cabin now in place, awaiting cabling and antenna installation. Ground inside the enclosure has been cleared of debris and a stone/gravel surface laid. Mains cables have probably been run between the mains cabinet and the transmission equipment cabin.

Stage 4a - Oct 98 - equipment cabin now in place (27K)
Stage 4b - Oct 98 - mains box now locked (36K)
Stage 4c - Oct 98 - inlet on transmission equipment cabin, awaiting cables (12K)
Stage 4d - Oct 98 - local population look forward to improvement in BT Cellnet reception (8K)
Stage 4e - Oct 98 - there's an extra base, maybe for future UMTS equipment? (35.1K)

Stage 5 - October 1998: antennae and transmission cables now in place.

Stage 5 - Oct 98 - BT Cellnet antennae and transmitter cables have been installed (23.3K)
Stage 5 - Oct 98 - Cables run into equipment cabin (14.8K)
Stage 5 - Oct 98 - Cables run along duct (31.9K)
Stage 5 - Oct 98 - planning notice in place (18K)

Stage 6 - before May 1999: microwave dish in place and site is now live.

Stage 6 - before May 1999: microwave dish has been installed.
Stage 6 - before May 1999: alternative view of microwave dish.
Stage 6 - before May 1999: NEC Pasolink driving the microwave dish.

New Orange pole site in 1998 / Addition of Vodafone next door in 2004

Stage 1 - October 1998. Site cleared. Enclosure fencing in place and gravel laid. Pole installed and earth cabling in place. Warning notices put up.

Stage 1a - Oct 98 - New Orange pole - top - awaiting antennae (14K)
Stage 1b - Oct 98 - New Orange pole - enclosure - awaiting equipment cabins and cabling (26K)

Stage 2 - October 1998. Orange transmitter cabinets and generator installed.

Stage 2 - Oct 98 - tranmitter cabinets and temporary generators now in place (15.0K)

Stage 3 - November 1998. Antennae, microwave dish and cables now installed.

Stage 3 - Nov 98 - Six antennae and microwave dish are in place (9K)
Stage 3 - Nov 98 - Close-up of two of the antennae (11.8K)

Stage 4 - December 1998. Site on air sometime late 1998. Permanent mains supply installed.
Stage 4 - December 98 - Electricity pole carrying dedicated mains supply.

Stage 1 - December 2003

Stage 2 - January / February 2004

Stage 3,4,5,6,7,8 - March 2004

Mike Pratt, April 2005.

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