Planning for AM tower collocation begins with the analysis of the station facility. While all AM stations can, in theory, be used for wireless collocation projects, practical factors may make some facilities economically or technically unattractive to develop. Where there are multiple towers, the best tower must be picked. Making an inappropriate choice can add thousands of dollars to the overall cost of the collocation project.
AM sites can be complicated, having several towers or even different sites used at different times of the day, such as for day and night transmissions, at several power levels. This may impact the overall costs and operational aspects of the project. A common example would be to select a tower used only at night, where all construction and maintenance could be done during the day.
Typical site factors must be evaluated; such as ease of access and construction convenience. Every AM tower has beneath it a radial ground network containing miles of copper wire that is essential to the AM operation and mandated by the FCC.
The location of the wireless equipment shelter or pad must also be carefully chosen to minimize AM interactions, and appropriate shielding, carrier equipment grounding, and filtering may be needed. Experienced designers use electromagnetic field modeling techniques to specify exact locations and outfitting for equipment packages to minimize interactions.
The wireless carrier will be the one to drive the installation and will demand the highest quality hardware, detailed planning, and full documentation. These are not always well understood or appreciated by AM operators and engineers.
The AM tower collocation integrator should be involved in the process as early as the site acquisition stage. There are many subtleties to negotiation of a satisfactory lease or acquisition agreement for which expert input is mandatory. Screening of all possible site candidates can reveal possible AM tower collocation candidates and avoid unneeded detuning situations.