UK Councils play a key role in Small Cells rollout.


Urban small cell densification

Recently I joined CityFibre for a 5G webinar, aimed at UK Councils looking to explore the opportunities and challenges presented by 5G.

I spoke about urban small cell densification – and the vital role Councils must play in making this happen outdoors.

It’s a much-hyped area – but a typical UK market forecast predicts there will be 3 Small Cells for every existing macro site today, by 2030.

Some forecasts will be higher, some lower, but the direction of travel is clear.

Arqiva and BT were doing deals with London Boroughs many years ago – but with limited impact.

The challenge is as much one of supply as of demand.

A ‘macro lite’ process to densification won’t cut it.  It will be too slow and too expensive and will position small cells as a last resort behind new spectrum, massive MIMO, etc..

The small cell itself is the easy bit. But rolling out small cells in volume will require a process that is cheap, quick and simple – more like ‘Wi-Fi plus’?

There are other new entrants looking to do this but, beyond a handful of pilots, progress has been limited to indoor small cell deployments.

An attractive proposition will need to incorporate the site, power, and backhaul.

It requires a different supply chain with new players, such as Councils and their street lighting maintenance contractors.

A company like CityFibre is well-positioned to tackle this challenge. A Gigabit footprint across more than 100 towns and cities – with strong Council relationships and the UK Mobile Operators.


Small Cells – the challenges and opportunities

It’s not simple and will take several years to produce an industrialised solution that allows scale deployment.

Ask yourself:

  1. What is my objective?
  2. Which are my most valuable / important assets –the c. 500 sites where densification will happen first?
  3. What does my existing street lighting (and other street furniture) contract allow me to do?
  4. How do I make sure I am joined up in my thinking?

So, we need to start the hard work now.

Additonal reading:

Total Telecom interview with David Hilliard, CEO: Program failure: an expensive education

Insight Guide: How ‘mobile-centric’ fibre networks will make the UK a 5G leader’

Blog: How prepared are you for 5G?