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In my daily walks, I often look up at street lamps and think about the potential they have to implement many different technological solutions, whether for environmental monitoring, surveillance or improving network infrastructure. So it was no surprise to see this week’s announcement from Movandi and Ubicquia about their partnership to develop and deploy mmWave street lighting repeaters to improve 5G coverage and fixed wireless access.

The intelligent mmWave repeater, which plugs into a street light photocell socket in minutes and is said to be compatible with 360 million existing street lamps worldwide, (Source: Ubicquia)

Under the terms of their agreement, Ubicquia will use Movandi’s technology to create a smart mmWave repeater that plugs into a street light photocell socket in minutes – the system is said to be compatible with 360 million existing street lamps worldwide, to accelerate wide 5G mmWave coverage and FWA deployment. They will be installed in just minutes and will automatically lock to the host’s RAN signals to provide repeater-to-repeater connectivity without the need for a fiber connection to the core network. The mmWave smart repeater also integrates with all major RAN / Open RAN technologies, including Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and Samsung, and supports all global bands of the mmWave spectrum.

The street lighting repeaters, which are expected to be tested and implemented in 2023, meet the requirements for power, protection, measurement, weight and wind and can provide optimal coverage of outdoor and user experience by expanding 5G mmWave gNB range and redirecting signals around obstacles. They feature Movandi’s mmWave 5G RF technology and reference design platforms, including RF semiconductors, custom phase-array antenna modules, algorithms and software, including a cloud API for managing, controlling and analyzing AI / ML data.

Ubicquia’s mantra on its website is to “turn street lamps and poles into smart assets that provide data-driven insights.” The company already has experience with this, having worked with Ericsson earlier this year to implement a small street radio cell by plugging it into existing street lamps using a standardized connector from the National Association of Electric Manufacturers. The device is virtually invisible from street level, sitting just above the streetlight shield next to the light and allowing it to merge with existing infrastructure. The installation can usually be completed in just 15 minutes, turning street lighting into low- or mid-range 5G space.

In an interview with EE Times To announce the latest partnership with Movandi, Ubicquia CEO Ian Aaron said: “We are a unique company, with one foot in the utilities sector and one foot in the mobile (many of our engineering team are from Motorola). “This,” he said, “has made the company and its partnership with Movandi an ideal alliance to make mmWave 5G a reality in the past.”

Using existing street lamps and their constant power, a distance of 50 meters and a height of 8-10 meters, this makes millions of site-ready places available for less time and money than building new poles for 5G radio base stations (gNBs) and pulling fibers to them. Joe Madden, chief analyst at Mobile Experts, said in a recent white paper, “MmWave radios mounted on street lighting transform the economy of coverage,“That repeaters mounted on street lighting represent an” incredible opportunity to drastically speed up deployment schedules, streamline many regulatory and approval approval steps, and save money. “

Illustration of the Ubicquia Movandi network
Street lighting repeaters can provide optimal outdoor and user experience coverage by extending the 5G mmWave gNB range and redirecting signals around obstacles. (Source: Movandi)

“In our assessment of a small town requiring 950 new 5G mmWave radios (gNBs) for full coverage, we found that using 100 gNBs mounted on street lighting and 850 repeaters reduces 10-year TCOs. [total cost of ownership] by more than $ 13 million or 35% and 89 million or 80% compared to the gNB pole configuration alone, ”said Madden.

Ubicquia CEO Aaron said: “The only way for mobile operators to deliver on the promise of mmWave 5G in a reasonable amount of time is to use existing street lighting infrastructure. Our goal in working with Movandi and integrating our IP and working on street lighting solutions for public WiFi, public safety and small carrier carriers is to help mobile operators not only deliver 5G mmWave services in dense urban areas, but and make 5G mmWave services a reality for cities of all sizes. ”

This was said by Mariam Rofugaran, CEO and co-founder of Movandi EE Times“Many companies have approached us to help improve mmWave’s outdoor coverage. We came to the conclusion that this team is strong, understands the challenges and knows how to implement an easy-to-install solution. ” She added: “Our partnership with Ubicquia uses Movandi’s RF semiconductor and software technologies to provide an innovative 5G mmWave-based streetlight repeater that transforms the operator economy, accelerates broad 5G mmWave global coverage and unlocks an expanded portfolio of high-speed services with low latency and user experiences. “

Rofugaran explained that the two companies are works closely together to make the box and create a market. “This will really change the game, whether it’s fixed wireless access or hotspot coverage. Once it’s done, it will be a huge opportunity for volume. “

Aaron added: “There is a delayed search for fixed wireless access. I see that really growing next year. “

Analyst Madden concluded: “Our conclusion: the placement of street lighting is absolutely the right way. The savings are significant, but more importantly, radio stations can be aired extremely quickly. Perhaps the biggest benefit is avoiding these boring city council meetings! ” The last remark concerns the bureaucracy and time of city councils, which can take weeks and many meetings to get approval for alternative solutions. The proposed repeater of street lighting does not require these planning approvals.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, street lamps have a huge potential to deliver more to cities, and the partnership between Movandi and Ubicquia to improve mmWave 5G coverage is just one example. I’m sure we’ll see more options integrated into these boxes that plug into street lamps; not just sensors, but much more connectivity, vision and intelligence. Do not underestimate the modest street lighting.


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