Published: Feb 11, 2011 10:46 PM EST
Updated: Feb 11, 2011 7:46 PM EST

NEW YORK (AP) - As cell phones have spread, so have large cell towers - those unsightly stalks of steel topped with transmitters that sprouted across the country over the last decade.

Now the wireless industry is planning a future without them, or at least without many more of them. Instead, it's looking at much smaller antennas, some tiny enough to hold in a hand. These new transmitters could be placed on lampposts, utility poles and buildings - virtually anywhere with electrical and network connections.

If the technology works, it could offer seamless service, with fewer dead spots and faster data speeds.

Some big names in the wireless world are set to demonstrate "small cell" technologies at the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest cell phone trade show. It starts Monday in Barcelona, Spain.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)