Tuesday 16 May 2023

Deutsche Telekom 5G Small Cells in Phone Boxes

Vodafone and BT/EE in UK have been deploying small cells in phone boxes for years, now the German operator Deutsche Telekom is going the same way as it starts dismantling the last remaining 12,000 public telephones of the 160,000 that used to exist. 

The Museum for Communication in Frankfurt (link) has models of the German Phone Boxes. The following is an extract from DT's blog post, translated in English by Google Translate:

The well-known "yellow telephone boxes" have not been there since 2018. There are currently around 12,000 public telephones from Telekom. The steles or so-called basic telephones are often located at train stations, airports or on exhibition grounds. They are not economical, they are outdated and consume large amounts of energy. On average, it is between 500 and 1,250 kilowatt hours per year - depending on the equipment at the location. By switching off the unused technology dinosaurs, between six and 15 million kilowatt hours can be saved annually. This corresponds to the power consumption of several thousand apartments. The supply of spare parts for the old ISDN technology is also being discontinued by the manufacturers and is becoming increasingly difficult. Despite all the good memories, it's about time, even with this look, 

Telekom will gradually phase out the service by early 2023. From November 21, 2022, coin payment will be gradually deactivated nationwide for the remaining 12,000 telephones. From the end of January, the payment function using telephone cards and thus the entire telecommunications service at the telephone pillars or booths will also be discontinued.

The dismantling of the steles will then begin, which is expected to be completed by the beginning of 2025. In consultation with the communities, Telekom continues to use around a quarter of the sites to improve local mobile communications without a public telephony function. It is converting the locations with so-called small cells. These are small antennas that amplify cellular signals and thus further improve cellular communications. 

Since the Telecommunications Act was amended at the end of 2021, there is no longer any obligation to operate public telephones. Due to the low usage, the public telephones no longer contribute to the basic service of the population. Even for emergency calls, the public telephones are no longer relevant. Here, too, the mobile phone takes over and supports, for example, by transmitting the exact location information.

This video below shows how some of these phone boxes will have Ericsson's small cells. There are two different approaches. Some of them will be D-RAN and some of them will be C-RAN, where C is Centralised in this case. Switch on the subtitles for English translation.

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