Nebraska Tower Collapse Story Draws TIA Scrutiny

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From: Bryan Lanier, PE, SE

Chair, TIA TR-14 Engineering Committee

Director, Broadcast Engineering, American Tower Corporation

To the Editor,

A recent Inside Towers article regarding a two-year old collapsed broadcast tower in Nebraska (Two-Year-Old Tower Collapse in Nebraska Revisited, August 6, 2019) correctly reports that the cause of the tower collapse was due to anchor shaft corrosion, but mischaracterizes the frequency with which such problems occur. The article quotes an engineer saying that failure due to anchor shaft corrosion “happens more often than reported,” implying that such incidents are a common problem in the tower industry, which is not at all the case.

Field data from the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) TR-14 Engineering Committee, which is responsible for the ANSI/TIA-222 Structural Standard for Antenna Supporting Structures, Antennas and Small Wind Turbine Support Structures and represents the majority of the wireless infrastructure owners in the U.S., shows a .03% occurrence rate for severe anchor rod corrosion issues to the point of failure.

The ownership groups represented by TIA own, operate, inspect, and maintain more than 100,000 wireless sites in the U.S., with the guyed mast population making up approximately 30 percent of the collective portfolios. As a result of ongoing preventive inspection and maintenance activities in the wireless industry, fewer than 10 guyed towers from members of TR-14 have been identified with severe anchor rod corrosion over the past two years, none of which posed an immediate danger to the public.

TIA’s TR-14 Committee consistently works to prepare and evaluate existing and new wireless infrastructure to be resilient to potential corrosion related issues for exposed steel anchor rods, as portrayed in the article. We know this issue is potentially hazardous and believe it must be addressed with appropriate inspection and preventive maintenance as indicated in the TIA-222 Standard.

TIA is committed to promoting the reliability of wireless communications and helping the industry overcome unjustified obstacles to the implementation of wireless infrastructure. As we continue to pursue a safe and reliable telecommunications industry, it is important to take corrosion-related problems seriously, but they should not be overexaggerated, especially without accurate context.

Thank you,

Bryan Lanier, PE, SE

Chair, TIA TR-14 Engineering Committee

Director, Broadcast Engineering, American Tower Corporation

August 26, 2019   

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