Self-Standing, Self-Supporting, Rapid-Deployment Tower Overview
Real World Challenges That Led to these New Tower Designs
When Adaptive Internet started to work on expanding its initial tower network in Delta County Colorado, it became apparent
that finding good locations on private property for new communications towers was important to its growth and expansion. The
problem quickly showed up when the company had initial conversations with property owners. Many were willing to have a
tower on their property. However, when the conversation explained the foundation requirements and the necessity of
excavating a large hole or holes on their property and filling them with re-bar and concrete, many became very hesitant or
rejected the idea completely because they did not want that kind of permanent foundation on their property. The other problem
with building a permanent foundation is that many of the tower sites being looked at were fairly difficult to get to and access for
excavation equipment, concrete trucks and construction equipment was extremely limited.
Adaptive Internet surveyed all of the possible tower products that were available at the time from self- standing mono-pole
towers, lattice self-standing towers, guyed towers, and cell phone towers. All of these had significant foundation requirements.
The problem with most of the low-end self-standing or guyed towers is that they were very small structurally from side to side
(from 7” wide to 18” wide) and had pole diameters of one inch or less. Not only were these difficult to climb and properly
place antennas on, they were also not very rigid and they would move or twist in the wind. While this twist may have been
structurally acceptable, it made their use very problematic for placing point-to-point backhaul antennas on these structures.
Backhaul point-to-point radios require very precise alignment and have very narrow radio beams. If the tower structure moves,
then the backhaul bandwidth suffers significantly.
Adaptive Internet also surveyed existing towers in the area for the potential of leasing space on these existing structures. Many
existing towers were already heavily used and the usable frequency spectrum was very limited. Towers with room, were asking
astronomical monthly lease fees. The other issue with existing towers is they typically did not provide the best locations or
cover areas that needed service.
It is at that time that Adaptive Communications LLC spent time looking at all of the structural requirements for a tower. It
become clear that a larger structure was needed, constructed of heavy duty steel tubing so that the structure would be stiff and
easier to climb for installation and maintenance on the antennas that are mounted on a tower. It was also realized that having a
platform to stand on while aligning and maintaining the radios attached to a tower would provide a significant advantage. Time
was also spent looking at the related OHSA requirements for towers. All of this was taken into consideration as the idea for the
“Self-Standing, Self-Supporting, Rapid-Deployment Communications Tower design began to take shape.
S4RD Communications Towers
The name “S4RD” Communications Towers encompasses the full idea of having a “Self-Standing, Self-Supporting,
Rapid-Deployment” Communications Tower. This design was created on the premise that a carrier grade tower
structure would be needed to create a product that could easily be setup at a tower site and that could also be
moved to another site if needed in the future.
Solving this problem required working through several different engineering challenges. First, was the need of
having a Ballast Base system that would support and provide a rigid base for tower heights from 20’ to 120’.
Obviously the wind loads on a tower that is 120’ tall is significantly greater than the wind loads for a 20’ high tower.
Ultimately, after analysis and testing we settled on four varying Ballast Base Designs that can be used for different
The second challenge was the development of a Carrier Grade quality and size tower structure that could be placed
on top of the Ballast Base system. This required a structure that was stiff and that could support a generous load of
antennas and radios even in high winds. In addition, the tower structure needed to support the ability to easily climb
Proof of Concept Development
Our initial Proof of Concept design was a Frankenstein collection of various salvaged tower components, ladders,
etc., assembled to create a new tower platform and structure built to test the concept of the Ballast Base System.
This 40’ high tower has been extremely successful and has surpassed all expectations for a carrier grade tower that
was also easy to install without any foundation work. This tower is currently operational and currently supports a
large load of 15 antennas and radios, including two that are 36” diameter backhaul radios. This tower regularly sees
winds in excess of 60 MPH with higher gusts. In almost a year of use, this tower has held steady during significant
storms and has proven to provide a rigid base for a tower.
This proof of concept helped validate the Pendant support structure concept to support the tower diagonally from the
Ballast Base. This has proven to be a very successful way to support and provide rigidity to the overall tower
structure. It allows the pre-loading of the Ballast Base in a way that increases stiffness of the entire structure.
With the success of the Proof of Concept tower, three initial prototype towers were then built and installed. The First
two of these prototype 40’ towers incorporated the original Ballast Base system as used on the Proof of Concept
tower above. However, these two towers were built from scratch to incorporate all of the design ideas and concepts
into them as a complete package. These two towers proved that the idea of a “Self-Standing, Self-Supporting, Rapid-
Deployment” tower system was completely valid. The tower structures also incorporated all of the applicable OSHA
requirements into them to support their real-life use in a safe manner. Each of these two towers is slightly different
with alternate ideas incorporated. Both of these towers are installed at tower sites and have proven to be very
The third 40’ prototype tower incorporated the learnings about the Ballast Base system and an improved Ballast
Base design was developed and produced for this tower. This tower has been installed and is currently being used. It
has proven the success of the final Ballast Base design, which is what will be used for all production towers going
forward. It has also proven the final platform design for mounting radio equipment. In addition, this tower was used
to test the extension tower concept. A 12’ extension tower section was added to the top of this tower to create an
overall height of 52’ which has also proven to be substantially strong and rigid.
Four additional tower prototype towers are currently being built. These will be used to validate the 80’ and 120’
towers. They incorporate the third and fourth of the Ballast Base layouts.
The final tower design has now been locked in and incorporates all of the learnings from building the initial
prototype towers. Many improvements have been applied to the final design that simplify the manufacturing of
these tower systems and provide the ability to support a tower up to 120’ in height. The final design of both the Base
Ballast system and the Tower Structure components has been optimized to simplify the manufacturing steps and