Residents of and visitors to the London borough of Tower Hamlets can now enjoy enhanced 4G mobile signal – thanks to bus shelters with built-in small cell connectivity.
The service is being made possible by a partnership between connectivity infrastructure-as-a-service provider Freshwave and out-of-home media and infrastructure company Clear Channel UK to devise a solution that would allow the technology to be “seamlessly” integrated into bus shelters in the London borough.
Clear Channel UK manages the bus shelters in which the small cells have been installed on behalf of leading UK mobile network operator Virgin Media O2. It said customer data usage is increasing by about one-third a year and with 5G also requiring networks to be densified, new ways of providing connectivity must be found.
The firms envisage that busy areas such as high streets, where bus shelters are already providing an essential public service, place greater demand on networks because more people are trying to use the mobile signal from the same macrocell. They said their outdoor small cells immediately increase access to top speeds and capacity in the area around them, making it easier for people to connect.
Also, using existing street assets, rather than building new assets, not only makes it faster and easier for the mobile operators to enhance their networks, but it also reduces the amount of clutter on the streets.
The companies said that as a result of the collaboration, small cell technology – from any infrastructure-as-a-service provider – can be installed anywhere there is a Clear Channel shelter and a requirement to increase network capacity in the area. Following “the success” of this new approach, the firms said 5G-ready technology will now be added to more bus shelters in the borough in the coming months.
For Clear Channel, the ability to use bus shelters to host mobile technology provides a whole new set of options and locations for network operators. The company said such shelters provide a robust structure and excellent capacity to carry the technology, and that with the need for connectivity infrastructure increasing, it regards bus shelters as “an exciting new option” for operators as they seek to bolster their networks.
“I am proud of our constant engineering and design innovations, as well as the way we collaborate in new ways with industry partners and local authorities,” said Freshwave CEO Simon Frumkin. “Smart cities and towns need new approaches to digital connectivity. And the more existing street assets that can be used to bring this to our towns, the better it is for both the mobile network operators and the customers and communities they serve. This is why we are already working on a multi-operator, multi-technology design for bus shelter use, too.”
Clear Channel UK co-managing director Will Ramag added: “We are glad Freshwave is the first organisation to have seized this opportunity with us, and it’s been great working with the team for this pilot. Helping to provide mobile connectivity plays a big part in our Platform for Good commitment to the public, and we are excited to support this technology in lots of other communities around the UK.”
Pete Hollebon, radio network engineering – outdoor small cell and microcell delivery lead at Virgin Media O2, said: “Collaboration with partners such as Freshwave and Clear Channel is crucial to delivering the best possible network experience for our customers. This industry-first achievement provides us with new options when it comes to our continual network improvements and we are looking forward to adding the technology to further sites.”
Read more about UK broadband connectivity
- Research from UK communications regulator finds widespread use of video streaming and other bandwidth-intensive services mean people are demanding more of their broadband connections, but accessibility to ultra-fast connectivity is dependent on location.
- With latest UK inflation figures set to see comms contracts rise, UK broadband majors, altnets respond to cost-of-living crisis reacting to mitigate against worst effects of price rises for customers and staff.
- UK gigabit broadband expansion rolls on for CityFibre, Hyperopticas deployment in South Yorkshire adds to largest independent provider’s estate as part of £8bn development plan, while fibre provider announces internal and external milestones as it clocks up 11 years in business.
- UK a broadband laggard as altnets grab share from incumbents reveals Ookla overview of UK broadband market showing that while fibre development is accelerating throughout the country, median fixed broadband download and upload speeds compare badly with global market.