Round Wood Poles and the 5G Revolution

In the wake of a pandemic that brought forth remote jobs, at-home schooling, and the opportunity to engage with virtual communities, it’s never been more important to efficiently build infrastructure that will support broadband networks to our country’s most rural areas.

As the telecommunications industry competes to bring broadband 5G to rural areas across the country, more utility poles will need to be installed to support that growth. Round wood telecommunications poles—like the ones serviced by Bell Structural Solutions—are emerging as an ideal option for many telecommunications companies looking to expand their networks.

Round wood towers—also known as utility poles, telephone poles, or telecommunications poles—are growing in popularity across the telecommunications industry. Consumers are starting to choose wood telecom towers as an alternative to steel structures because of their environmental benefits, fast delivery times, affordability, and long-lasting service life.

But for telecommunications companies accustomed to investing in steel structures—which have long been misunderstood as the most sustainable option—the thought of making the switch to wood utility towers might bring up some questions. In this blog post, we’ll cover some of the common questions we get from telecom companies about our round wood telecom towers.

What are the types of round wood poles?

There are several types of round wood poles that can be used by the telecom industry. Distribution poles are typically 55 feet or shorter, transmission poles range in height from 60 to 125 feet, and laminate structures can reach up to 165 feet. Wood structures can be constructed out of five types of wood: Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, Northern Red Pine, Southern Yellow Pine, and Western Larch.

Telecom companies
who choose to invest in wood utility poles as opposed to steel could save up to 42%

How can the telecom industry benefit from round wood poles?

The telecommunications industry can benefit from the efficiency, reliability, and affordability wood structures offer that utility pole alternatives, such as steel structures, cannot. Wood poles are more affordable; telecom companies who choose to invest in wood utility poles as opposed to steel could save up to 42%. In addition, wood structures offer lead times of just six to eight weeks, while steel poles often have lead times of 20 weeks or more.

When telecom companies choose wood structures for their utility poles, they’re also making a positive impact on the environment. Wood utility poles are climate positive—meaning it’s the only building material that actually reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment. To give you an idea of what this means: if 2,000 wood poles are purchased, the equivalent of 460,000 gallons of gas is saved due to the reduction of carbon emissions. However, if 2,000 steel poles are purchased, the equivalent of 156,000 gallons of gas is consumed due to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

And contrary to the perception across the industry, for every tree harvested to provide a wood utility pole, another tree is planted. On top of that, the forest land base in the United States is currently considered stable, with as much land in forest production as in 1990.

How tall can a round wood pole be?

Round wood poles can be up to 125 feet tall, depending on the species of wood used. Engineered wood structures can be up to 165 feet tall.

Can a wooden utility pole support 5g infrastructure?

Yes, a wooden utility pole can support 5G infrastructure. In fact, because of their affordability, fast lead times, and sustainability, wood pole infrastructure is the most efficient way for the telecommunications industry to support the industry’s growth.

What is a small cell tower?

A small cell tower is a pole with a 5G antenna that communicates with other 5G antennas. Because small cell towers need to be close together in order to communicate with each other, more utility poles need to be installed in order to support the telecommunication industry’s growing 5G infrastructure. Small cell towers can be attached to round wood utility poles, which is the most sustainable and affordable way to support growing 5G infrastructure.

Can infrastructure made from round wood poles last as long as steel infrastructure?

Infrastructure made from round wood poles will last just as long—or even longer—than steel poles. Contrary to perceptions across the industry, infrastructure made from round wood towers can last more than 100 years when they’re maintained properly. On the other hand, steel structures—which used to be falsely perceived across the industry as the more reliable and low-maintenance option—have demonstrated corrosion and mechanical damage that have led some telecommunications consumers to lean toward wood poles in recent years. In fact, according to the North American Wood Pole Council, the coatings applied to steel infrastructure can lead to the decay to steel utility poles within the first 40 years of installation.

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