Mapping 5G Upgrades in Rural America: Featuring Plainview, TX
Using radio frequency sensors on aircraft, Aurora Insight measures wireless networks, including 5G deployments, in rural and hard-to-reach areas around the country.
Aurora Insight’s wireless infrastructure maps showed that 2020 was a major year for operators, with new networks coming online across the country, and 5G deployments in both major metros and rural towns. However, the data also revealed large gaps in network infrastructure for many rural regions across the U.S. — just further proof of how the digital divide is very real for millions of citizens.
Although cellular carriers have a unique opportunity to help bridge this gap with 5G network deployments, timely and accurate coverage maps are still key to bridging the digital divide.
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Mapping Network Infrastructure: Plainview, TX
Located just off I-27 in the panhandle of Texas, Plainview is home to approximately 20,000 residents. The town is just one of hundreds of regions across the U.S. where Aurora Insight has measured wireless infrastructure with our network of sensors.
By comparing data from two different airborne-based collection periods in March and December of 2020, we identified multiple new transmitter deployments and 5G upgrades in the town.
Highlights from the data analysis:
Transmitter deployments and changes in Plainview, TX
(Data collected in March 2020 and December 2020)
Airborne data collection is the key to mapping rural connectivity
To provide network operators, tower companies and wireless investors a clear view of the ever-changing state of network deployments, Aurora Insight uses a network of sensors to detect and measure wireless infrastructure deployments around the country, including the presence of 4G and 5G signals. This includes deploying sensors on aircraft, which has proved a new level of efficiency and speed that was previously unheard of when it came to mapping wireless infrastructure in remote or rural areas of the country.
Why mapping rural connectivity is the key to closing the digital divide
Closing the digital divide is impossible without accurate maps showing where network infrastructure is located and which communities are still lacking access to them. Increasing wireless network coverage in rural areas has been historically difficult for a number of reasons, but partly due to inconsistent coverage maps and reliance on self-reporting from wireless carriers.
Recognizing this in 2019, the FCC issued an order for new coverage information to be submitted to its Digital Opportunity Collection, which will create new wireless coverage maps. Developing nationwide network topology maps and keeping them up-to-date was once a complex task that is now much easier thanks to Aurora Insight’s network of sensors that measure infrastructure deployment across rural and metro areas.
Aurora Insight’s approach to mapping wireless network infrastructure
Aurora Insight customizes its approach to measuring wireless network infrastructure based on the area being surveyed. Airborne data collection is ideal for measuring deployments across rural regions or hard-to-reach areas, and it requires far less resources and time than traditional methods like drive testing.
With our aircraft-based sensors flying over vast geographies, and taking blanket RF measurements of the regions below, they quickly detect every wireless transmitter deployed on the ground. To monitor changes in deployment over time, regular flying routes are key to creating accurate, timely network infrastructure topology for any area in the country.
Depending on the characteristics of a particular region, Aurora Insight’s ground-based sensors could be the preferred method for data collection, or even better, a combination of both methods will generate a highly targeted and accurate collection.
About our data
Aurora Insight’s Wireless Infrastructure Maps are derived from our WirelessEssentials data sets. Available in rural or metro areas with the option to include nationwide and regional carriers. Here is what is included with the data sets:
- Identifies locations of transmitter deployments and the technology standard (4G/5G)
- Counts the number of network operators deployed at a targeted site
- Identifies spectrum and bandwidth usage
Why network operators are switching to Aurora Insight for data collection
With the ability to cover vast areas over a short period of time, measuring network activity from aircraft has proved to be the most efficient method for generating timely, accurate data on wireless transmitters.
By covering hard-to-reach areas where drive-testing is unavailable, airborne data collection allows for complete, comprehensive data sets.
Our data collection is completely independent of networks and requires no input from third parties, unlike many crowd-sourced data sets.
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