U.S Cellular is turning to horses to upgrade its network

William Gayde

Posts: 382   +5

Providing cellular coverage across the country is big business. If cell providers want to be able to claim they have 99% or more coverage of Americans, they need to put up a lot of cell towers. Covering most of the country's population is easy. Just plop a few towers down around the major cities and you'll have the majority of the population. The difficulty is in covering the last few percent who often live on isolated farms or in rugged terrain.

It's not always possible to drive in with heavy equipment to setup or perform maintenance on a tower when there are no roads for miles around. U.S Cellular has found an innovative yet old fashioned solution to this problem. In an interview with NPR, horse owner Jason Julian describes how he uses ancient technology to help maintain cutting edge cellular networks.

Julian's draft horses are used to pulling thousand pound loads around the muddy countryside so hauling antennas around is "a cakewalk for them." He and his horses meet up with the equipment vendors who drop of the antennas or other gear at the nearest accessible road. It's then attached to a sled and pulled by horses the remaining distance to the tower where crews can then install the equipment.

The logistics team finds it pretty ironic that with all of their cutting edge equipment and beefed up delivery trucks, the humble horse remains essential for the upgrade. The team is pleased with the work they do and will likely hire them in the future "the next time modern vehicles fail to get the job done."

Lead photo credit - Ann-Elise Henzl/WUWM

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Posts: 4,583   +6,903
"The last few percent" is nearly 20% of Americans. Its not that they can't be connected - its just that the profits would be pretty modest, and the cable and wireless giants won't settle for anything less than ABSURD profits. But it gets even more outrageous. The government allows Big Cable and Big Wireless to block ANY attempt by someone else to bring service to those stuck on the Last Mile. AT&T and Verizon file dozens of lawsuits every year to stop municipalities and smaller ISPs from providing affordable service in under-served areas.


Posts: 127   +103
I find it unbelievable. If farming, forestry machinery can get to those places, there's no reason you can't haul things up there the same way. The only two exceptions would be really mountainous terrains and really swampy ones. But then even horses can have trouble.

On a separate note, saying covering most of population is a easy as putting few towers near the bigger cities and towns is not true. Not only quite a large number of people live further away, but those who live also do travel, and it's not really coverage if you have cell reception only if you stay in one place...


Posts: 708   +334
Technology is about getting things done in a efficient way... People sometimes forget that...
So if a horse get the work done better, that's better technology...