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Laws of Economics Affecting Tower Placement

Reference Number: MTAS-1455
Reviewed Date: 08/28/2023

Tower construction may be divided into two general types:

  • Guyed towers: Towers that depend on the attachment of guy wires to hold them in place and to protect against the forces of wind and ice.
  • Self-supporting towers: Towers that are rigidly constructed and, once attached to a base anchored in the ground, need no additional support to withstand the forces of nature.

Guyed towers tend to use a latticework construction. Self-supporting towers can use latticework construction, but the more modern approach is the monopole — a tapered, rigidly built spike or pipe placed perpendicular to the ground.

Inch for inch, self-supporting tower structures generally are more expensive to construct than guyed towers.

Despite their relative lower cost of construction, guyed antennas may ultimately be more expensive for the telecommunications provider due to the amount of real estate needed for this type of construction. For example, a 200-foot tower, 80 percent of which is to be guyed, will require nearly two full acres of real estate to achieve the necessary rigidity. [1] In a community having high real estate values, installing a guyed tower may not be a viable option.

As a city plans for the placement of telecommunications towers, it must understand these economic realities.

[1] Roger L. Freeman, Telecommunication Transmission Handbook, Second edition. John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1981, page 242.