Green means go for 5G! telent looks to traffic signals for rapid, cost-effective, scalable roll-out

Wireless Services

National Infrastructure Rollout

Network Services

Network Providers

By Gerard Donohue, Chief Technical Officer at telent

The demand for fast connectivity is here to stay and as our ‘always on’ culture continues to intensify, the levels of bandwidth we use will also multiply. As the trend and subsequent population growth in urban communities continues, the demands on infrastructure is on an ever-increasing curve upwards. Smart Cities, autonomous vehicles and the emergence of Internet of Things (IoT) underpin this new dynamic. Ubiquitous connectivity will be the normal operating model and will ensure that demands on infrastructure can be managed in a “do more with less” model. As these environs emerge in the 21st century, this means that physical infrastructure such as roads, rail and pathways become a pivotal asset in ensuring this can be achieved.

This next generation of mobile and connectivity will be delivered by 5G technology – the enabler for higher quality, content rich data services. Challenges associated with this evolution are already being felt by Service Providers as growing bandwidth pushes access networks to the limit. With 5G requiring an immense amount of small cells compared to existing technologies and the number of IoT connected devices over the next five years expected to increase to 20Bn+ , this challenge will only become more substantial.

A technology like no other

5G and similar small cell wireless technologies will be the primary connectivity delivery model for next-generation applications to operate. 5G differs from previous wireless technologies in two fundamental ways. Firstly, it is faster, with greater capacity than previous generations. According to Digital Trends, 5G will have a predicted access speed of between 1-10Gbps. Such impressive rates of data transfer will undoubtedly be a huge benefit for end users. Secondly, the area and range within reach for 5G base station coverage is significantly less. The net result of this is that many more new 5G base stations will need to be deployed to match the coverage of existing networks - this is the challenge. The most notable difference between 4G and 5G will be that 5G will act as a gateway for IoT applications delivering the scale and breadth of connected users (human and machine) that can be met on a global scale.

Up to this point, mobile network upgrades have essentially involved new faster radio base stations being installed onto the existing mast infrastructure. While this is an oversimplification of the process, it has been an evolving mechanism to upgrade the existing infrastructure since the mid-1980s. 5G on the other hand, requires a brand-new infrastructure, with many more new base station sites and high capacity links to be able to connect base stations back to the operator and service provider core networks.

A traditional new build approach would require significant new infrastructure – poles, masts for antenna arrays, civils, new cabling and power installations to connect antenna arrays. Plus, all the permissions, wayleaves, landlord consents, roadworks and associated disruption and cost. So how can the industry cost-effectively and efficiently deliver this next era of connectivity?

"As 5G moves from concept to reality, telent’s unique position as a leading technology provider will ease the transition, providing the right levels of service throughout, backed by assurance and proficiency."

- Gerard Donohue, Chief Technical Officer

A new approach

At telent, we have come up with an alternative approach for 5G deployment. With the application of telent’s capabilities, experience and established relationships with leading technology partners and public sector clients such as Transport for London, Local Authorities, County Councils and highways agencies, telent can offer a tailored and cost-effective approach for scalable, advanced and future-proof 5G network infrastructures.

Through telent’s managed service partnerships, we operate and maintain many systems and services that 5G can leverage to deliver coverage. telent services include traffic signals, street-based CCTV, passenger information devices at bus stops and other roadside information devices. By utilizing these existing local traffic signal, CCTV and other highways infrastructure, we can cost-effectively deploy 5G small cell systems, creating value for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).

These various existing devices are already connected to local data networks and can be used to mount 5G antenna arrays and connect them to Service Providers’ local points of presence. In many cases the connectivity to these roadside devices is already powered by fibre and can, therefore, provide additional capacity to support the new 5G equipment.

In cases where the roadside devices are connected using the established cable technology, new fibre can still be pulled into the existing cable ducts to connect the 5G equipment. The Infrastructure Services team at telent is currently rolling out super-fast and ultra-fast fibre broadband and can use this expertise to deploy additional fibre connectivity to support additional 5G antennas, as required. Other radio technologies that are complimentary to the delivery of 5G can also be leveraged to create a mesh architecture between connected roadside devices and locally installed additional 5G devices.

Assessing the advantages

In comparison with alternative street deployment options, our 5G solution offers competitive delivery of services and commercial models. telent has a nationwide availability to undertake projects at scale, with capacity to serve major towns, cities and major transport hubs such as Gatwick & Stansted Airports, Ashford International and Port of Dover. This cost-effective approach is further simplified because third party specialist contractors are eliminated as site access and work credentials have already been secured by telent’s own teams.

As with any infrastructure enhancement, ease of access is vital. We also have a tried and tested proficiency in the scheduling and management of services deployment. The approach of utilising existing street-based devices to install 5G, will present minimal planning and permission constraints (depending on availability of equipment) and associated delays. telent’s VoltServer solution allows power to be provided via existing telecom ducts reducing the requirement for additional electrical supply installations. This approach, as well as using fully modular poles, enables projects to be rapidly scaled.

Of course, local authorities who allow their street assets to be used in such a way should not be expected to do so for free. This can be addressed via an annual rental fee which would subsidise infrastructure expense incurred for telemetry, management, maintenance and other system costs. The local community would also benefit from enhanced mobile coverage, the enablement of smart technologies and new services such as smart roads and autonomous vehicles.

Our detailed understanding of the highway network and technology environment, coupled with our proven track record in the design, planning, deployment and operation of multiple radio, mobile and cellular technologies, make telent ideally suited to deliver on this proposition.

As 5G moves from concept to reality, telent’s unique position as a leading technology provider will ease the transition, providing the right levels of service throughout, backed by assurance and proficiency. As part of telent’s DNA, it continually assesses emerging and developing technologies to ensure that the technology benefits can be mapped against business requirements and demands can be met.

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