Providing better connectivity. Improving safety. Making Chicago more competitive.

Across Chicago, wireless connectivity is essential for local businesses and residents. It’s also helping to power the area’s burgeoning technology community, cultivated by innovative Chicagoans and city leaders. And with an estimated population of over 2.7 million people as of 2016—as well as tens of millions of tourists and visitors exploring the Windy City each year—it’s clear that Chicago’s demand for mobile data is growing exponentially. 

This places a huge burden on the local wireless infrastructure well beyond the Magnificent Mile, especially with regard to public safety; 80 percent of 911 calls are placed from a mobile phone, and a reliable network is critical in providing access to police officers, firefighters and other first responders. The time to upgrade and enhance the city’s wireless coverage and capacity is now—and small cell solutions, or “small cells,” are a key component. Small cells are often used to complement existing wireless infrastructure, such as towers, to add much-needed capacity in highly populated areas. 

We’re seeking to supplement Chicago’s existing wireless infrastructure by deploying a small cell network of 594 low-powered antennas called “nodes”that are connected by fiber optic cable and can handle large amounts of data at high speeds. Small cells can pave the way for next-generation networks such as 5G, which promise to expand “smart city” innovations including autonomous vehicles and citywide data sharing.

Also, since small cells often are inconspicuously installed on right of way infrastructure like street signs, utility poles and streetlights, they blend into their surroundings and preserve the aesthetics of their environment. Working in partnership with city staff, we plan to enable improved wireless carrier service while keeping Chicago’s character intact.

Discover how small cell solutions have helped communities around the nation.

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About Crown Castle

Crown Castle owns, operates and leases more than 40,000 cell towers and approximately 60,000 route miles of fiber supporting small cells and fiber solutions across every major US market. This nationwide portfolio of communications infrastructure connects cities and communities to essential data, technology and wireless service—bringing information, ideas and innovations to the people and businesses that need them. 

Crown Castle has been deploying fiber and small cell infrastructure in Chicago since 2007 and currently employs 120 members of the Chicago community. Furthermore, Crown Castle anticipates investing over $72 million over the lifespan of the new wireless infrastructure project in Chicago.