About ten years ago, Evelyn Torres set out to do what no other woman in the telecom industry has ever done: Create a durable mobile telecom tower that can deploy in minutes, make it in the U.S. and make it safe. Today, her Irving, Texas-based Solaris Technologies Services provides the world’s only climb-rated cell-on-wheels tower lineup.
As a former Nokia executive working in Latin America, Torres was responsible for connecting much of the region’s first mobile communication infrastructure. But the entrepreneurial spirit got the best of her. This self-described “engineer at heart and in mind” left the corporate world to design a new kind of cell tower on wheels based on strength, durability, and safety.
What sets Solaris apart – and above – its competitors? For Solaris CEO Torres, it comes down to one word: Safety.
“We’re all about safety,” she says. “Many providers of infrastructure don’t have training programs, and for us, it’s mandatory. We don’t sell anything to anybody without training, period.”
Torres went on to explain that Solaris offers certification for every tower delivery.
“It’s very unique – it’s a three-hour course and everyone gets certification. It’s the operations, maintenance safety for the tower,” she explains. “We also have 24-7 technical support.”
Solaris has a patented triple cabling system built to support the high-capacity mobile tower, and 1,100 lb. of equipment weight on its mast. The cabling system allows for enhanced safety measure while supporting extreme weight, it is one of the few mobile towers that is climb-rated. Each tower goes through a rigorous 36-point inspection before it is deemed safe to be deployed in the field.
Torres says she believes in patenting her company’s products because “if you put your name on it, and it’s something no one else has done, you’re investing in that technology. It says ‘I’m doing more than the other guys; I care more about the product quality.'”
Solaris products have trademarked the nickname for that quality: “ToughTowers™.” The company’s structural engineers and certified technicians ensure every COW is robust and secure. The largest towers in the company’s lineup can support more than 1,100 pounds and are designed to stand up to harsh weather conditions. Manufactured in Texas with USA galvanized steel, the COWs come with all needed hardware, anchors, and jacks.
Here’s a quick look at Solaris’ product offerings, and highlights of each:
- 60′ Steel Mini Tower – Supports a 500-pound weight load and up to 90 mph maximum wind speed, guyed
- 80′ Quick Deploy Tower – 10′ sections can be adjusted from 10′ to 100′. 500-pound weight limit, 70 mph maximum wind speed, guyed
- 106′ Tower – 25-minute set-up, ANSI/EIA/TIA compliant, 110 mph maximum wind speed, 1,100-pound weight load support on mast, three-arm antennas for equipment placement
- 120′ Tower – 25-minute set-up, ANSI/EIA/TIA compliant, 110 mph maximum wind speed, 1,100-pound weight load support on mast, three-arm antennas for equipment placement
- 150′ Goliath – 40-minute set-up, ANSI/EIA/TIA compliant, 110 mph maximum wind speed, 1,100-pound weight load support on mast, three-arm antennas for equipment placement
The company offers financing and tower maintenance programs, and Solaris will upgrade and repair towers from other manufacturers.
Solaris mobile towers are often used when a permanent tower is taken offline, or to relieve oversaturation of units until a new, permanent tower can be placed. COWS are in demand to provide connectivity during special events and to communities after natural disasters – such as hurricanes and earthquakes.
Mobile towers are also called into service during unexpected scenarios – such as when millions of Americans suddenly found themselves working and learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Solaris worked with municipalities across the country to bring a broader range of network capabilities to workers and students in locations that required additional capacity.
“In some areas, there’s just not the right demographics for adequate coverage,” Torres says. “Our solution is rapidly deployable and very inexpensive…maybe one-tenth of the price of a traditional fixed tower and it’s done immediately. There’s not a lot of red tape. So what we’ve been pitching is, ‘hey, let’s stop the bureaucracy…we do more. So let’s do it!'”
Another Solaris innovation is its Green Initiative, which can save money, help the environment, and potentially double an existing tower’s lifespan. The Solaris team can refurbish any tower and save tower owners the hassle of going through approvals for a new structure.
For Torres, giving back also means giving time and talent. She serves on the board of advisors for engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. She’s been widely recognized for her business success – as a woman, a Latina, an entrepreneur, and an inventor. But it’s evident that her role as a STEM mentor is close to her heart.
Torres always knew she had a talent for engineering and a strong ambition to start her own company. But young women of her generation were generally steered toward teaching, nursing, and other gender-traditional careers. That’s why she’s an advocate for today’s female students.
“Back in the old days, STEM programs weren’t even a part of life,” she says. “But now I won’t shut up when I’m talking to a girl about technology. I’m telling them how much they can do with math and sciences.”
What’s next for Solaris? The company is busy rolling out its new 5G Antenna Mount, designed in conjunction with T-Mobile, but available to all carriers. The mount allows carriers to install more 5G radios on each mobile tower – they can now deploy 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G radio arrays from one deployment site
“We’re always trying to push the envelope,” she says. “We’re thinking of how we can be ahead of the curve, how we can be the go-to, how we can be the thought leader in everything we do. I’m really proud of our company and our people.”