AT&T is addressing one of the biggest challenges to 5G deployment, installing small cell towers on street lights.
5G promises to revolutionize a range of industries, delivering speeds once thought impossible. Unfortunately, the fastest varieties of 5G are limited by extremely short range and poor building penetration. AT&T’s solution is to install small cell radios on top of street lamps, significantly improving coverage.
AT&T is using Ericsson’s Street Radio small cell, a convenient option that can be plugged directly into existing streetlights and has a relatively small profile — an important factor in not making streets look like something from a Frankenstein’d cyberpunk future. The installation can also be done in a mere 15 minutes.
“Streetlights are also the perfect deployment point for meeting network infrastructure densification needs because they are typically 8 to 10 meters high, spaced 50 meters apart, have an existing power supply and are within close proximity to fiber,” writes AT&T’s Gordon Mansfield, VP Mobility Access & Architecture. “By using existing infrastructure, this solution reduces costs, streamlines site approval and permitting, and speeds installation. These radios also have smart sensors that allow us to detect failed or downed streetlights in the event of a storm, blackout, or other disruptive event. This helps us in quickly assessing damage and dispatching crews for repairs or alerting the power provider of an issue.”
AT&T’s option is an elegant solution to the problem and may just be what’s needed to make the fastest flavor of 5G more widely available.