The deployments will help add capacity to the network at these typically busy locations, relieving the pressure on existing macro-site infrastructure
This week, Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) have announced their latest collaboration with infrastructure-as-a-service provider Freshwave, seeking to deploy 5G-ready small cells in bus shelters in parts of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
These small cells can be integrated directly within the shelters themselves, providing the surrounding area with increased mobile capacity and thereby helping customers to connect and access mobile services, even at peak times.
For now, these sites will provide 4G connectivity, but in future will be capable of delivering 5G service to customers. Backhaul for the small cells will take place over VMO2’s fibre network.
The bus shelters in question are managed by Clear Channel UK, an advertising firm that owns and operates around 40,000 advertising sites in the UK, including from bus shelters to digital posters in supermarkets.
Deployment is set to take place in over the coming months. The exact number of bus shelters set to receive a small cell has not been announced.
“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’re already working on a multi-operator, multi-technology design for bus shelter use too,” said Simon Frumkin, CEO at Freshwave.
This announcement builds on an announcement from the two companies earlier this summer, when VMO2 and Freshwave revealed they had deployed over 1,300 live 4G and 5G small cells across London. Part of this deployment included a trial involving 5G-capable small cells within bus shelters, which it seems is now being expanded across Tower Hamlets.
As demand for mobile connectivity continues to increase, small cell deployment will become increasingly important in delivering quality services in urban areas. Though of vital importance, densification will be a costly process for the operators, particularly with regards to securing wayleaves to deploy these small cells on buildings.
As such, it makes sense that these initial small cell deployments will take advantage of existing street furniture, such as bus shelters and lamp posts, allowing the operator to bolster network capacity at high footfall locations for a cheaper price.
How will the rise of small cells impact the UK mobile market? Find out from the experts at the upcoming Connected North conference in Manchester