While walking my daily routes I frequently gaze at the streetlights and consider the possibilities they have to deploy a variety of technology solutions, be it for surveillance and monitoring of the environment, or to improve the network infrastructure. It was therefore not a shock to read this week’s announcement by Movandi as well as Ubicquia of their collaboration to design and install streetlight repeaters using mmWave technology to increase five-G coverage and fix wireless coverage.
In the terms of the agreement, Ubicquia will make use of Movandi’s technologies to create an mmWave-based smart repeater that can be connected to a streetlight’s light socket in a matter of minutes. the system is expected to work with 360 million streetlights across the globe, to speed up wide 5G mmWave coverage as well as FWA deployment. They will be in place in a matter of moments and lock on host RAN signals automatically to guarantee repeater-to-repeater connection without the requirement to connect via fiber to the network’s core. The smart repeater from mmWave connects to all major Open RAN technologies such as Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and Samsung and can be used with all of the mmWave spectrum bands in the world.
These streetlights, which are expected to be in the test phase and deployed in 2023, will meet utility power, safety and metering requirements, as well as weight and wind loading requirements and will ensure the best outdoor coverage as well as user experiences by expanding the coverage of 5G mmWave gNBs as well as redirecting signals to avoid obstacles. They are equipped with Movandi’s mmWave 5G technology for RF as well as reference designs platforms, including RF semiconductors and customized phase array antenna modules algorithmic, software, and that includes cloud APIs for management of control, AI/ML data analytics.
The slogan of Ubicquia’s site is “turn streetlights and utility poles into smart assets that deliver data driven insights.” Ubicquia has a proven history of doing this before, and in the past worked with Ericsson to put in place the company’s street radio small cell connecting to existing streetlights making use of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association standardized connector. The device is hardly visible from the street, resting just above the streetlight’s shield right next to the light and permitting it to blend with an existing network. The installation is typically completed in just 15 minutes, turning an existing streetlight into a loweror mid-band 5G facility.
Interview in the EE Times to announce the most recent alliance in partnership with Movandi, Ubicquia CEO Ian Aaron stated, “We are a unique company, with one foot in the utilities sector and one foot in mobile (many of our engineering team are from Motorola).” According to him, this has made the company and its collaboration with Movandi an ideal partnership to bring mmWave 5G an actual reality faster.
Utilizing existing streetlights and their constant power, 50-meter spacing and 8-10 meter elevations that creates millions of sites available for only a fraction of the cost and cost than creating new poles for bases stations for 5G (gNBs) and bringing fiber to these stations. Joe Madden, principal analyst at Mobile Experts, highlighted in an earlier white paper ” Streetlight Mounted mmWave Radios Transform Coverage Economics,” that streetlight-mounted repeaters provide the “incredible opportunity to dramatically speed up deployment schedules, streamline many regulatory and installation approval steps, and save money.”
“In our assessment of a small city requiring 950 new 5G mmWave radio base stations (gNBs) for full coverage, we found that using 100 streetlight mounted gNBs and 850 repeaters reduces 10-year TCO [total cost of ownership] by over $13 million or 35% and by $89 million or 80% compared to a gNB only utility pole configuration,” Madden stated.
Ubicquia CEO Aaron declared, “The only way mobile operators can fulfill the promise of 5G mmWave in the timeframe that is reasonable is to make use of the existing streetlight infrastructure. Our aim in working with Movandi, and integrating our IP with their streetslight-based solutions to public Wi-Fi as well as public safety and small cells is to assist mobile operators not only deliver 5G mmWave service to urban areas that are dense, but to also create 5G mmWave as feasible for cities of all sizes.”
Maryam Rofougaran, CEO and co-founder of Movandi Maryam Rofougaran, Movandi’s CEO and co-founder EE Times, “We were approached by a variety of organizations to assist in enabling this kind of improvement in outdoor mmWave coverage. We concluded that this team is a strong one who understands the issues and knows how to deliver an easy-to-install system.” She continued, “Our collaboration with Ubicquia utilizes Movandi technology and RF semiconductor technologies to create the most innovative 5G streetlight based repeater that improves the economics of operators, speeds up wide-ranging global coverage for 5G mmWave and opens up a wider selection of high-speed and low latency applications and user-friendly experiences.”
Rofougaran explained that the Two companies have been working in order to develop the device and develop an industry. “This is going to revolutionize the game, regardless of whether it’s for fixed wireless access or hotspot coverage. Once it is fully operational it will provide an enormous volume of opportunity.”
Aaron said, “There is a pent-up demand for fixed wireless connectivity. I believe this will grow over the course of the next year.”
Analyst Madden said, “Our conclusion: streetlight deployment is definitely the method to take. The savings on costs are substantial however radios are up and running very quickly. The most important benefit could be the elimination of boring city council sessions!” The latter remark refers to the bureaucracy as well as time required by city councils, which can last for weeks, and even multiple meetings to obtain approvals for the alternate solutions. The streetlight repeater proposed doesn’t need these approvals to plan.
As I said in the beginning of this post, streetlights possess enormous potential to bring greater services to cities. Movandi and Ubicquia’s alliance to improve mmWave connectivity is only one instance. I’m certain that we will see the an increase in capabilities of these devices that connect to streetlights. Not only sensors, but greater connectivity, vision and even intelligence. Don’t be fooled by the humble streetlight.
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