American Tower and Philips Lighting are working together to develop a smart pole that will provide wireless network coverage, as well as LED street lighting. The companies chose the Mobile World Congress Americas, Sept. 12-14 in San Francisco, to announce the alliance and show off a prototype of the LED streetlight.
The smart pole will enable evolving smart city applications including the Internet of Things, as well as small cell densifications.
Mostly known for its global portfolio of 148,000 macrosites, American Tower also manages 15,000+ rooftop sites and 340 indoor DAS deployments. The relationship with Philips marks American Tower’s entrance into the market for urban densification, according to Patrice McAree, vice president of innovation at American Tower.
“We have been looking at how to create value for the carriers in the urban areas. What do they need in dense urban scenarios?” McAree said. “One of the most intriguing concepts has been the idea of hiding [the small cells] in plain sight. Using common infrastructure, light poles in particular, is now the go-to solution for deploying mobile infrastructure.”
American Tower and Philips Lighting have formed an alliance to jointly develop the new smart pole, which will be available in Q1 2018.
“We have combined our capabilities for the carrier strategic siting, along with designing a new, exciting product,” McAree said. “It leverages the number of locations where small cells will be deployed, while being advantageous to cities,” McAree said.
At the inaugural MWC Americas, the two companies showed off the first version of the prototype, which can accommodate one carrier. A second prototype is in the works that will host two carriers with space for up to eight radios, four per carrier, fully partitioned.
“It has a very streamlined, non-intrusive design to look like a standard street pole in any city,” Aree said. “When we designed it with Philips we looked at how we can deploy multiple carriers in strategic locations. Another important factor was building value for cities with a small cell that doesn’t create clutter in the urban landscape.”
Philips brings to the alliance its knowledge of the municipalities and a history of working with them to develop lighting in streetscapes, according to Bill McShane, national director of Philips Connected Experience.
“We are helping cities and municipalities to turn their assets into digital real estate,” McShane said. “They can help cities drive economic development, respond to innovation, create local jobs and adopt LED products across the country.”
Making sure that municipalities maintain control of their cityscapes is the key to deploying the huge number of small cells projected to be needed for 5G and the Internet of Things, Patrice said, and having Philips as a partner will help to ensure a genial relationship with local authorities.
“Philips Lighting is a vendor that is well-known and trusted by cities’ lighting departments across the country,” McShane said
“If you are a city decision maker in a city’s lighting department, Philips is the first call you make,” he said. “We are already seeing cities where we can start to take full advantage of their relationships with Philips and its knowledge of the permitting processes.”
With the tidal wave of technology coming at the cities, they need a trusted advisor to help them deal with it, McShane said.
“We can have a conversation with them and show them that small cells don’t have to be ugly,” he said.
J. Sharpe Smith is senior editor of the AGL eDigest. He joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.