Consumers are watching more streaming video and making video calls on their mobile devices as they go about their cities, unconstrained by data caps that have been removed under competitive pressure. Operators are responding to the greatly increased demand on their networks with increased capacity. This can be achieved through denser deployment using existing frequency bands and using the more recently licensed higher frequency mmWave bands, but the propagation characteristics of these bands mean shorter range and more limited coverage. To overcome these limitations, operators must make their networks more dense, which in urban environments means putting small cells on street assets such as street lights, traffic lights, bus shelters and digital signs.
At the same time, city governments are looking at the role that street assets can play in both the delivery of traditional government services such as public safety, both for traffic and pedestrians, and new responsibilities related to business development and digital inclusion. These services are delivered at the local level and street assets offer an appropriate delivery vehicle with very granular distribution across the city.
The goals of operators and city governments have always been complementary. Now, regulatory action is providing an additional reason for operators and cities to find ways to work together. Both the US, under the FCC’s small cell order (FCC 18-133), and the European Union, under Directive 57 of the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC), have created a framework for small cell deployments on city-owned assets, and other countries will no doubt follow suit.
However, regulatory action does not automatically make it easier to collaborate. There are many challenges that city governments and operators must together address – one of the most common is the integration of communications equipment with street assets. It is complicated to manage the installation of multiple communications and sensing devices in order to provide different services. The current approach is the ad-hoc attachment to existing street assets and the result is usually unappealing, which attracts citizen complaints. If smart poles are used, the result looks much better but each integration is bespoke and costly for pole manufacturers and equipment manufacturers. There is a collective need for a solution that provides operators and cities with the services they need, is acceptable to citizens and creates a horizontal market for pole and equipment suppliers.
The TIP Street Smart module specification for Integrated Street Assets addresses these issues by providing a “chassis in the street” – a shared physical and communications infrastructure built on street assets such as street lights, traffic lights, bus shelters and digital signs – through which multiple services can be offered by multiple tenants while blending into the city streetscape. The specification is built upon the principle of a standardized, modular approach which provides consistency in implementation for equipment vendors, infrastructure providers, operators and cities. This approach creates a large horizontal market for communications and sensing equipment manufacturers, a standardized approach for street asset manufacturers that avoids custom integrations, and a technical underpinning for the procurement and permitting processes of local governments. It can be applied to both existing street assets and new construction assets such as smart poles, bus shelters and the like.
Ligman and Edgecore have worked together to integrate Edgecore’s TIP open Wi-Fi Access Point ECW5211-L and MLTG-CN Terragraph node into the Ligman Evolve street pole platform. Terragraph MLTG-CN provides wireless gigabit connectivity to smart poles, allowing the deployment of hybrid fiber-wireless networks quickly and cost-effectively extending existing fiber networks. With MLTG-CN and ECW5211-L, the smart poles are able to deliver high-speed Wi-Fi Hotspot service. The collaboration addresses the mechanical, thermal, power and data connectivity aspects of integration and demonstrates the flexibility of the modular approach. The Ligman Evolve platform also includes operator Radio Access Network (RAN) sub-systems, which are also suitable for modular integration. The combined solution will be used in upcoming deployments in Dublin (Eire) and Taiwan.
“Communications and sensor devices are core components of the Ligman Evolve platform,” said Trevor Leighton, Managing Director of Ligman Evolve. “Our city and operator partners depend on the integration of these components into street assets for the implementation of their connected cities strategies. The TIP Street Smart module specification has an essential role to play.”
“Edgecore’s networking products conform to open standards and are ideal for connected city infrastructure applications,” said Teng Tai Hsu, Vice President of Edgecore Networks. “The TIP Street Smart module specification is an important element in the creation of a large, horizontal market, which is beneficial to all participants.”
The TIP Street Smart specification is being developed through a collaborative effort between participants of the TIP Smart City Connectivity sub-group representing different parts of the ecosystem, including operators, local governments, smart pole manufacturers and communications and sensing equipment suppliers. The specification is intended to facilitate and accelerate the deployment of wireless communication and sensing networks to support the Smart City Connectivity needs of the present and the future. Products that conform to the specification will be eligible for listing on TIP Exchange.
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