Monday 24 August 2020

Leveraging Streetlights for the Digital Future

If you are a regular reader of this blog then you will know we love lamp posts, street lights and poles. There are quite a few posts whose references you can find at the end of this post.

The mmWave Networks group at Telecom Infra Project (TIP) have recently released a new whitepaper, Leveraging Streetlights for the Digital Future. Street fixtures like lamp posts, light poles, traffic signals and other vertically-oriented assets that provide line of sight to targeted facilities and residential areas were identified as having a huge potential for rapid deployment of high speed future broadband networks (including 5G) in the TIP Playbook for Smart Cities.

This new whitepaper looks at "Deployment of high capacity urban mobile networks and smart city applications converges on assets in the public space, such as streetlights. This study and analysis deepens the understanding of the obstacles to deploying on streetlights today and points to possible pathways to accessing such assets to enable fast and flexible deployments"

Quoting from the whitepaper:

In a Digital Networks Working Group handbook by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (Germany), streetlighting infrastructure has been identified as being very suitable in comparison to other street fixtures.

Deutsche Telekom initiated a study to explore such fixtures and possible pathways to accessing them. Before tackling any challenges, we wanted to understand what the "landscape of the players' ecosystem" looks like, what drives it, what slows it down or stops it from moving, how it works today, and what may need to change.

We did this specifically for our German home market, but feel confident that the study results can serve as pointers for the challenges and opportunities this asset poses for many other markets. We also believe the political and legal challenges will be very similar for similar assets apart from streetlights.

The study set out to describe the rules and regulations of public administration, public economy, and public law to which this infrastructure is subject, as well as to identify challenges, opportunities, and potential for its future design.

We chose a design thinking approach because we need to understand the players and stakeholders who control this infrastructure. And we wanted to undertake this before assessing what can and should be done with these potential assets to enable comprehensive broadband coverage and smart city development.

The whitepaper is available here.

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Monday 17 August 2020

Commscope's 4G / 5G Outdoor Small Cell Solutions

Commscope are well known for their small cells deployment solutions. Their small cell densification page contains a lot of different implementations, some of which have been compiled in the image above.

CommScope provides virtually everything needed to deploy outdoor small cells—from base station antennas, RF transmission systems and fiber to poles, concealment solutions and more. The Professional Services team can help with network designs, construction plans, and permitting.

In addition, Commscope offers a wide range of concealment options that integrate advanced technology into aesthetic packages to complement urban streetscapes and meet permitting requirements. The small cell site concealment solutions are designed to meet both thermal and aesthetic requirements across multiple types of radios and environments.

This 4G/5G Outdoor Small Cell Solutions Brochure provides more details while the Metro Cell Concealment Solutions video shows the solution.

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Tuesday 11 August 2020

Facebook's Fiber Deploying Robot

Facebook Connectivity, in collaboration with a number of partners, has spent the last few years developing an aerial fiber deployment solution that uses a robot designed to safely deploy a specialized fiber-optic cable on medium-voltage (MV) power lines. An article on Facebook Engineering page provides more details:

Each robot will be capable of installing over a kilometer of fiber and passing the dozens of intervening obstacles autonomously in approximately an hour and a half. To account for the human interaction steps such as setup, loading and unloading the robot, installing transitions, etc., we have been conservatively estimating an overall build speed of 1.5 km to 2 km per robot per day on average.

While traditional aerial fiber deployment involves heavy machinery, reel carts, large spools and large crew sizes, a fiber deployment crew deploying our solution, will comprise two or three electric utility linemen and a pickup truck with a few kilometer spools of fiber, a robot, and a few accessories, allowing many crews to work in parallel. These accessories will include an apparatus, developed by our partners Quanta Services, that’s designed to allow the robot to be safely loaded and unloaded from the live line by the line staff. There is also a custom cable clamp, which can be used to periodically clamp the fiber to the power line using a hot stick, along with a specially designed splice case and phase to ground assembly. We expect the total cost, including labor, depreciation, and materials, to be between $2 and $3 USD per meter in developing countries.

By lowering the total cost of aerial fiber deployment, we expect that our system will have a significant impact on internet penetration, especially among the half of the world earning less than $5.50 USD per day. This is thanks to a subtle benefit of the enormous bandwidth of each fiber strand, which allows large capacity upgrades to be made via simple changes to the electronics on either end of the fiber. Illustrated in the chart below, with each small increase in cost, we get a large increase in capacity, resulting in the cost per bit falling over time. We believe this feature of fiber will help enable those even in lowest income brackets to be able to afford all the rich content the internet has to offer, helping to bridge the digital divide.

Here is a video from them:

The post on the website is far more detailed and is available here.

Interestingly AFL has a similar type of robot they have been using for a while to do similar kinds of deployments. Details available here and a video, back from 2013, below:

These innovations should definitely help connect more unconnected people in every part of the world soon.

Tuesday 4 August 2020

Some Pictures of Macrocells (and Small Cells) from Rakuten, Japan

If you have been following the Japanese operator Rakuten's progress, you will already know that they use variety of radio hardware vendors. Some of these we have covered in this blog. For example, Airspan's macros and small cells that I blogged here is used in quite a few locations. Similarly, I blogged about NEC O-RAN radios here that are being used in the live network too.

Here are some pictures from Twitter.

Rakuten mobile base station in Akiba (source)

Rakuten Mobile 5G base station, Komazawa Dori from Kanhachi (source)

Rakuten Mobile's 5G n77 base station. (source)

Indoor Rakuten mobile base station at the Haneda Airport International Terminal (source)

Antenna for high-rise buildings (source)

NEC on Rakuten Mobile 5G (source)

Airspan Air5G RDU 46, 28GHz (n257) (source)

You can't have a post on base stations without a speed test, so here we go

Speedtest on Rakuten 4G network (source)

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