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Through Innovative Technology, the Concrete Jungle Can Be Easy on the Eye

30 July 2018

About 24 years ago, the first two Tier 1 mobile network companies started operating cellular networks in South Africa. In the beginning of the cell phone technology revolution, first generation (1G) or “analogue” was the platform designed for voice transmission, that is allowing the user to make or receive voice calls.

With the rise of demand for more content and information, mobile network operators started to deploy more sophisticated infrastructure. Digital technologies-referred to as 2G, 3G and more recently 4G and 5G have become more preferable as they offer networks the ability to transmit text, voice and rich data as well as the ability to explore the Internet.

“What soon emerged from the country’s enthusiastic adoption of the new digital technology was the proliferation of infrastructure to carry GSM, Microwave Radios and other signals required to transmit cell phone signals and digital satellite television,” says Martin Ferreira, executive at JSE listed group Jasco. “Base station towers, masts and satellite dishes upon which the transmitters that allow you and I to receive connectivity became ubiquitous, affecting the aesthetics of the built environment,” adds Ferreira.

“Studies suggest that the future is going to be very much about smaller cells and much more infrastructure,” says Ferreira.

According to a 2016 Ericsson Mobility Report, global mobile subscriptions are growing three percent year-on-year, totaling 7.4 billion in the first quarter of 2016. The same study sees mobile broadband subscriptions growing at 20 percent year-on-year, for a total of 140 million subscriptions in the first quarter of 2016.

“Clearly mobile carriers are determined to continually increase capacity and coverage – building new cell sites – to stay competitive,” says Ferreira.

He says more base stations are being deployed, along the streets, in suburbs, at shopping malls and on rooftops. “Today these devices are everywhere, and it is not a pretty sight.” Of course there were attempts to camouflage these base stations, making them look like palm trees in some instances. But only a toddler would be naive enough to mistaken a shiny palm tree in the middle of a suburb to be anything else but a cell phone tower.

“As Jasco, with our innovation driven mindset, we felt the time was ripe for radical change in this space and together with our partner 3M, another innovation-driven business, we decided to bring to the South African market a new and quite revolutionary invention, the 3M Conceal Film,” says Ferreira.

Jasco has started rolling out the Conceal Film that essentially renders the transmission infrastructure such as antennas and masts amongst others virtually invisible to the naked eye. The 3M Conceal Film that is applied on the transmission device has zero impact on the signal strength or quality, but it goes a long way in turning the concrete jungle into a more aesthetically pleasing environment where we continue to enjoy the benefits of technology without creating a sight for sore eyes.

Furthermore, we also know that we share our urban living spaces with other inhabitants, birds in particular. “Good thing about birds is that they are able to see light at very different spectrums to those of human beings. In plain English, while these transmission devices will become invisible to the human eye, birds will be able to see them from a fair distance, which means they will not be flying into these towers and plunge to their demise,” says Ferreira.

“The introduction of this technology epitomizes Jasco’s approach to its business, which is underpinned by creating smart solutions to everyday ordinary and extra-ordinary challenges by deploying ingenious technologies that is also environmentally conscious,” concludes Ferreira.