Camouflage: Flagpoles

Camouflage is a method used to either hide the communications structure, or disguise the purpose of the structure. Camouflage is also referred to as stealth technologies. One of the more effective camouflage methods is the flagpole:


The above is a flagged flagpole in Poughkeepsie. The wireless communication panels are hidden inside a fiberglass skin on the monopole. This skin can be any color. The advantage of the flagpole is that it eliminates the discordant visual clutter that is typically at the top of the monopole, replacing it with a flag. The pole itself is much larger than a real flagpole because it both supports the structure and carries the wires that are attached to the cellular panel antennas.

In some places the flag itself can be a distraction, particularly in a rural setting where a flagged flagpole would be seen as out of place. In such cases the pole can be left unflagged. In these cases the poles often use a brown skin and have an appearance similar to a (very large) wooden utility pole, as can be seen on this pole in New Hampshire:


Co-location (meaning having more on than one wireless provider using the same pole) is more difficult to execute on a flagpole design for at least two reasons. First, because the panels are located flush to the pole, a taller pole is required to have the same number of panels when compared with a monopole with panels mounted as an array on brackets. The primary carrier, thus, is using more of the vertical space on the top of the flagpole, and the unused lower parts of pole may be too low to be attractive to another carrier. Second, the skin covering the panels makes it more costly for another carrier to install and maintain their panels.

Nevertheless, the appearance of the either version of the flagpole is usually visually more appealing than the standard monopole, as it eliminates the visual clutter at the top of the standard bracketed monopole.

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