Prior to Mardi Gras 2022, the major mobile operators would roll in temporary cell towers to provide coverage and capacity in the French Quarter, the oldest and most famous district in the 300+ year-old City of New Orleans. The need for these would be eliminated once the rollout of 5G took place in this historic district.
Before 2019, the installations in the French Quarter were limited and generally disliked throughout the city. Because of the unsatisfactory implementation of these early poles, 5G was delayed and studied carefully before allowing this next generation of technology to be raised.
In 2019, carriers proposed installing new 35 – 40-foot-tall mini towers within the historic district, with poles at nearly every intersection and close to 300 in total through the Quarter. Groups such as VCPORA, the Vieux Carré Properties and Owners Association and the VCC, the Vieux Carré Commission, expressed their outrage at the impact on the ‘tout ensemble’ of the city.
Because of the Federal ruling of City of Portland v. United States, local municipalities were prevented from banning the installation of small cells and 5G technology. They were, however, conceded authority to regulate the aesthetic design and siting of these installations and to assess the potential effect on historic areas. The VCC, as the foundation chartered to protect the historic architectural heritage of the French Quarter, was able to assess and advise on the designs proposed for the district.
The Toro Blanco Group, LLC worked with the Mayor’s Office, the VCC, VCPORA, the French Quarter Business Association, the French Quarter Management District, local residents and the carriers to design a pole capable of replacing the existing iconic French Quarter Streetlight with a fully functional Smart Pole with multi-technology and multi-carrier capabilities. Guided by the core principles set out by the Mayor’s Office to limit the new growth of poles and enable collocation and multi-use of the poles, Toro Blanco used an iterative approach, including prototype views and design reviews, to finalize a Smart Pole that incorporated the feedback of the groups listed above as well as the New Orleans City Council.
Over 700 of the iconic French Quarter Lantern Streetlights stand in the district. Originally there were requests for 289 5G pole installations. After the efforts of Toro Blanco and seemingly the entirety of New Orleans, 140 5G installations are underway in the Quarter utilizing Toro Blanco’s French Quarter Smart Pole.
Mardi Gras 2022 was celebrated without the usual array of temporary cell towers blocking sidewalks in this historic town and Toro Blanco is happy to contribute the ‘tout ensemble’ of their wonderful city and their next great 300 years.