Nosy Neighbor: WTH is that in Tribeca?

R. writes: “WTF is that in Tribeca…I mean Nosy Neighbor? [at Greenwich and N. Moore] They worked for a while on the base, then I think last week erected this strange light pole that has these large mysterious objects attached. They were working on the innards today.”

I got in touch with the city Office of Technology and Innovation — DoITT — and it is a “5G poletop.” Here’s from their press team:

What is it?
“As part of the City’s extensive 5G rollout across the five boroughs, we are installing 5G antennas on poletops that previously only housed 4G equipment. Thousands of poletops have been deployed over the last decade-plus to fill coverage gaps and meet the city’s demands for wireless service. This is particularly important because approximately 40 percent of New York City households lack the combination of home and mobile broadband, including 18 percent of residents – more than 1.5 million people – who lack both.”

They go on: “Poletops like the one depicted in your photo will accommodate both 4G and 5G technology. Note that in the photo the 4G antenna is at the top and is a brown-ish color. The 5G antenna is square/rectangular and will have a cover on it.”

And what it will do?
It will provide ultra-fast 5G connectivity to the surrounding area (approx. 750-1,000 feet). Expanding citywide 5G connectivity, through 5G poletops and Link5G kiosks, is an essential component of our ongoing efforts to bridge the digital divide.

Also, how tall is that??
Around 32 feet.

Judging by the stated range — 1000 feet — I expect we will see a lot more of these ugly things. You’d think there was a better way…

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  1. Was something added to a pole that already existed or did they add the entire pole? If the former, what exactly was added?

    The new Link NYCs with the big 5G towers look awful (the old ones do too). They’re just magnets for homeless people.

    It’s frustrating how the city abuses sidewalk space with blights like this. If these are truly needed, then they should put them underground or work with landlords to put the equipment on/in buildings and out of sight. Does anyone know where else they’re planned?

    • It has to be above ground (cannot be buried) and generally speaking, requires reasonable line of sight. 5G ultra wideband technology (mmWave) and the spectrum it operates on is very high frequency. The good is it operates in a spectrum that is broad and uncongested, allowing for extremely fast speeds (up to 10x the speed of FIOS theoretically).

      The weakness of this technology is while most cellular signals can travel through walls and into buildings, the nature of the radio frequency 5G UWB operates will reflect off of buildings rather than penetrate, and the signal doesn’t travel very far so true 5G access has been very limited so far.

      Up until recently, if your phone said 5G, it hasn’t really been 5G, so seeing a 5G signal in your house is a bit of a marketing trick. If your phone shows a tiny 5G UW or 5G+ next to the signal in the status bar, that’s the beginnings of real 5G.

      5G deployment has been slow because it requires more sites – for all the places AT&T, Verizon, etc. have towers, they were able to upgrade. However, new sites require data runs, permits, right-of-way, building agreements, etc.

      It appears that LinkNYC is partnering with the city, using white space to put these towers up, and then (I’m guessing) leasing space in the poletop to carriers to allow them to leverage the site to provide broader coverage. City would collect the revenue from the tower tenants, and the proliferation of Links around the city would continue, for better or worse.

      More stuff here:

  2. The New York Times published a story about these 5G poles November 5. Some poles are right outside people’s windows! The comments there are interesting.
    What Are Those Mysterious New Towers Looming Over New York’s Sidewalks?

  3. The “magnets for homeless people” are supposed to help folks with no to little income still make calls and charge a phone if they have one. I was born here and I do like the LinkNyc because I think the info and ads add color to the street. Im sure the first time they put up electrical poles everyone said they’re ugly. I think there are more important things to worry about than the aesthetics of a 5g tower or the link nyc stations