Sunny weather + camera = new cellsite pics

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 7-Sep-2008 15:40

A few photos taken today of new NZ Comms + Telecom sites in the Hutt Valley.

Upgraded Telecom Lower Hutt site in the foreground and Woosh + NZ Comms gear on the back building. This Telecom site was one of the first in Wellington to be upgraded for GSM 850 + UMTS 2100. The Woosh site has been in existance for several years now but the panels for NZ Comms have been in place for a couple of months now but are not live.

GSM is still live today on Telecom's site even though the GSM network has now been canned, obviously those sites that did have GSM gear fitted will still be live until it's removed and replaced with the UMTS 850 cards. I guess we'll be seeing some cheap 850MHz GSM equipment on Trademe soon! :-)

Main Vodafone site in Lower Hutt. 900 GSM + 2100 UMTS + 1800 GSM panels.

This site = M3gA Fa1L and should be used as a textbook example of how not to deploy a cellsite.
When the 2100 gear was added the sectorisation of this site was changed and neither of the 3 sectors now face the Westfield Queensgate mall right opposite. As a result inbuilding coverage in the mall is absolutely terrible with no coverage in large parts of the mall. Microwave links exist to several other sites including Petone, Ava and Mt Fitzherbert.

Waterloo Railway Stn site with both Telecom and Vodafone sites. Telecom panels are in the front left with the grey one on the left being a trial CDMA panel installed on several sites (Waterloo, Hutt CBD and Hutt VIC Corner) several years ago that can automatically pan & tilt to optimise the network depending on traffic load. Vodafone 900 & 2100 panels are in within the cream cylinderical enclosures at the other end.

This particular site has featured in the Hutt News this week as NZ Comms have applied for council permission to mount their gear there and some of the anti-cellsite people have jumped onto the bandwagon. Some of these anti-cellsite campaigners really should do their homework before they make idiots of themselves talking to the media when equipment for both Vodafone & Telecom as well as numerous council links for the smartlinx3 network already operate.

From the Hutt News 2/9/08  
Some residents in the Knights Road area are concerned that they haven't been consulted over a proposal to erect a telecommunications microwave tower and related equipment on top of the Waterloo Interchange building.

One resident believes the Hutt City Council has only sent information to a select few properties right opposite, including Omega Wigs at 214 Knights Road, Take Five and the dairy adjacent.

"This seems totally wrong and several homeowners/residents in the area who have learned of the application are concerned at the implications for them, their families and their property values if that application is approved and the towers and other equipment pods proceed."

Another concern is for the many pregnant women and children who regularly use the railway/bus station. They want to be assured this equipment is safe.

New NZ Comms site at Avalon

A closeup of the panels. NZ Comms don't appear to be painting any of their panels (special paint has to be used so it doesn't affect the RF properties) so this site stands out like a sore thumb. The mast has been painted green to fit in with the surroundings. Looking at the cables still coiled up below I'm guessing a microwave horn is still to be fitted for backhaul.

Vodafone site right next to the NZ Comms one. Bit hard to see detail due to the sun but it has 2100 UMTS panels on top and 900 GSM panels in the middle. Site and panels are all green but the microwave horn is still white (links to Avalon studios site).

Closeup of existing Vodafone 2100 UTMS panel (left) and new NZ Comms 900 GSM panel on the top of the Avalon TV studios tower block.

Upgraded Wingate Telecom site. One of only a handful of sites around Wellington still using omni aerials. This site was one of the last in the Hutt Valley to be upgraded before the Telecom rollout seems to have been temporarily halted. Also one of the only upgraded sites that never had a live 850 GSM signal - maybe this was only going to be a 2100Mhz site.

Closeup of the panels - this site is one of the original Telecom Mobile designs and dates back to ~1990. Note the south facing UMTS panel is a lot smaller since it's facing directly into a hillside that you can see in the picture above.

New Telecom CDMA + GSM 850 + UMTS 2100 site at Naenae. This site replaces the one below that used to be in Naenae Primary School.

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Comment by adamj, on 7-Sep-2008 17:11

Telecom have scrapped GSM?

Comment by scottpalmer, on 7-Sep-2008 17:37

Was it worth piking on last nights entertainment well before midnight just so you could get out and take some snaps today? ;-p

Comment by bbman, on 7-Sep-2008 17:49

Thanks for the images, i am matching up the CHCH and South Island sites with your Telecom sites. A lot of Telecoms omni rural sites have GSM live with no new antennas, in CHCH alot of the city sites have complete new antennas, Wairakei Rd (Russley) and Victoria st as an example. I notice the same new antennas in Nelson. 
They seem to be GSM/CDMA and possibly UMTS but since the antennas are all the same generally, it would indicate UMTS 850 not 2100mhz. Ashburton has had 2 new sites recently have additional longer antennas which may be 2100mhz,  maybe these will be replaced as well with 850mhz UMTS. Most of the sites seem to have similar antennas apart from the new site at Bush Inn which has what looks like a GSM/CDMA antenna and then a UMTS 2100 antenna as well, this only just been completed.
I will take some pics and post in the week.
By the way GSM has not been canned, UMTS also has not been confirmed but it is a given based on vodafones move and cost of capex. Hopefully this week the waiting will be over and a launch date will be given.

Author's note by sbiddle, on 7-Sep-2008 18:09

Word on the street is that GSM is history.. Also explains the sudden halt in the rollout over the past month or so. I guess nothing is official until Telecom announce it though. The reality is there simply is not the bandwidth to deploy 850 CDMA + GSM + WCDMA. Even deploying CDMA and WCDMA @ 850 is going to pose issues soI doubt we'll see much 850 WCDMA in the major centres but instead all 2100. This is going to be very interesting because we know 2100 signals struggle to even penetrate a piece of paper..

This is a major change of plans from Telecom and also an entirely new business model for their mobile network since the justification for GSM was in part the inbound roaming revenue that they would have taken off Vodafone.

Comment by nzbnw, on 8-Sep-2008 19:07

Hi sbiddle

Why would you say that deploying UMTS850 would be a problem with the existing CDMA network, Telecom have both A & B bands in the 850 range less an amount sold to NZ comms this year?

I could very well be wrong (quite likely actually)!



Comment by paradoxsm, on 9-Sep-2008 01:26

"This site replaces the one below that used to be in Naenae Primary School where it has been successfully sterilizing the children for many years now." :-P

Steve, so much time on your hands to go snapping pictures of cellsites!

Currently the enture state on mobile communications in NZ is a sorry state due to world market trends with new technology, I do think it's kind of stupid deploying an old time-divided GSM platform and think they should head straight down the WCDMA 850 path and I think many people in the know would agree.

Comment by bbman, on 9-Sep-2008 20:53

Yup, i would imagine thats the plan, ditch GSM altogether and go whole hog with 850UMTS and 2100 in the cities as well for capacity. Note Telecom may do a better job of this than Vodafone but thats just pure speculation and opinion,
In CHCH there has been heaps of activity over last 3 weeks, i have been talking to some of the people in the deployment and there is heaps going on. The guys from "Wideband Network Services" an aussie specialist have been converting antennas on several sites this week and low and behold most are using one style of antenna for all sites. 
NZ Comms have been putting up new sites in CHCH also as well, very ugly with out the special paint i have to say!!! None have the carrier antennas etc on them yet.
its all go in the south island!

Comment by wongtop, on 10-Sep-2008 09:27

Were they going to get much inbound roaming with GSM 850 anyway?  I would have thought most inbound roaming phones would be GSM 900/1800.  At least with UTMS850 they will get inbound roaming from Telstra NextG, (and an increasing number of other networks using UTMS 850).

Comment by Epoch, on 10-Sep-2008 10:34

Whereabouts is the new Naenae tower??  I'm presuming the Wingate Tower is around Moore Wilsons somewhere as well.  Thanks for the Pics!

Ev.  :-)

Author's note by sbiddle, on 10-Sep-2008 20:51

Naenae site is in behind Resene's - right next to the Vodafone one.

Comment by Geoff, on 31-Jan-2010 21:09

Has anyone got any pictures of the Gear Island "2 Degrees" Cellsite? It comes through loud and strong in Newlands - Wellington. It is the prodiminant site at our place, but we also pick up Petone South, Gracefield, Waiwhetu, Waterloo and Moera from here.

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Steve Biddle
New Zealand

I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.

I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)

  -xDSL deployments

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.

+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.

You can contact me here or by email at