In order to make the most of their 5G investments, mobile operators must densify their urban networks. This takes a new way of thinking about the use of shared street assets for small cells and a new way of working with city governments.
Over the course of the last year, the TIP Connected City Infrastructure Solution Group, chaired by Dublin City Council, has brought together operators, infrastructure providers, city departments and other partners to collaborate on the deployment of a number of small cells on shared assets in Dublin city center. Dublin City Council, Vodafone, Three, Cellnex, Ligman and Big Belly talk about the motivations for the project and the value of collaboration under the TIP umbrella in this video.
As part of this collaboration, the Solution Group is publishing a Playbook containing the learnings from the project and recommendations for best practices. The playbook is complemented by several templates and reference documents to help the user. While every city is unique, all cities face common challenges in small cell deployment and this guide can help accelerate the deployment of urban small cells and the advanced 5G services that rely on them.
The relationship between the city government, operators and their infrastructure providers has been generally transactional to date. Traditional macrocell and some small cell deployments have been on private property and the role of the city government has been limited to the planning and permitting process.
In the deployment of a dense mobile network on street assets, the relationships are more complex and there is more at stake for the parties. The end goal is to establish a set of relationships and a way of working that enables the stakeholders to deploy mobile networks efficiently and effectively in their city on an ongoing basis. The Playbook documents these in a comprehensive, easy to use format.
By taking a collaborative, holistic planning approach, city governments, infrastructure providers and their operator partners can obtain a number of benefits on behalf of their citizens and customers:
- Consideration of the streetscape in general and the requirements of heritage districts in particular will drive improved aesthetics.
- Shared open access infrastructure and innovative design will result in the more efficient use of street assets and the reduction of street clutter. Furthermore, the use of shared infrastructure would significantly reduce the capital cost and time to deployment
- Coordination and future-proofing of civil works will mean less disruption and lower costs
As a concrete example of the application of the holistic planning approach proposed in the Playbook, Dublin City Council has announced the establishment of a Telecoms Unit to accelerate the rollout of digital infrastructure and 5G deployments across the city. The unit will deliver a ‘one stop shop’, a central point of contact within the organization that allows for better use of city council owned assets in support of mobile and fixed telecoms deployment.