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Arqiva’s plans to ease the roll-out of future 5G networks in London have received another boost, after the network infrastructure supplier secured exclusive access rights to street furniture in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.
Arqiva and Waltham Forest Council have signed a 10-year access deal, enabling Arqiva to install small cell technology on 16,000 lampposts across the northeast London borough, as well as Wi-Fi access points (APs) for a planned public wireless network.
Small cells – low-powered radio access nodes with a much smaller range than traditional cellular access points – are considered a key element of enabling the transition from standard 4G to long-term evolution (LTE) 4G and future 5G roll-outs, because they can greatly expand mobile networking coverage and capacity where it is most needed, both quickly and cheaply.
Using council-owned street furniture for such infrastructure is also a positive as it means providers such as Arqiva can deploy across large areas without the hassle of having to negotiate access rights with multiple property owners.
“As data and voice usage increases exponentially, it is fast becoming essential for mobile network operators [MNOs] to deliver sufficient outdoor connectivity for their customers in dense urban areas,” said Arqiva managing director of telecoms and machine-to-machine (M2M), Nicolas Ott.
“Arqiva’s portfolio of communications sites means we are uniquely able to help the MNOs deliver the required coverage and capacity, whether it is towers and rooftops for macro sites, or street furniture for small cells.”
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Liaquat Ali, cabinet member for transformation and commercial services at Waltham Forest Council, added: “We use digital technology more every day to carry out jobs from ordering shopping and services, to keeping in touch with friends and relatives, to accessing council services. To do this we need fast online access – and that is precisely what this agreement brings for residents and visitors.
“Installing cell units into street furniture is an innovative and forward-thinking idea that shows we in Waltham Forest are committed to improving our digital offering for all to enjoy.”
The agreement with Waltham Forest is the 14th such concession Arqiva has arranged in London. It has also made similar arrangements in Colchester, Eastbourne, Manchester, Medway and Southampton.
Arqiva is also currently trialling fixed wireless access (FWA) in central London, demonstrating the potential of advanced point-to-point transmission technology to deliver browsing speeds comparable to those obtainable over a fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband network.
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