Category Archives: DAS

American Tower, Philips Lighting Team Up to Tackle Small Cells

By J. Sharpe Smith

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.

Street light prototype

“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. 

5 Bars, City of St. Louis Agree to Accelerate Small Cells

By The Editors of AGL

5 Bars Communities has announced an agreement to develop a wireless master plan and manage small cell wireless infrastructure for the City of St. Louis, Missouri.

The decision to partner with 5 Bars was based on maintaining local control, aesthetic integrity and increasing the needed connectivity for businesses, residents and citizens. Addressing wireless inadequacies in the City of St. Louis is of the utmost important in order to drive economic development.

In collaboration with the carriers, 5 Bars will streamline the process while preserving aesthetics.

When fully implemented, St. Louis will enhance the ability for all citizens to access high speed wireless connectivity throughout the city. The comprehensive program encompasses intelligent infrastructure technologies, Smart City initiatives, and 5G wireless planning.

5 Bars Communities, headquartered in Irvine, California is a provider of small cell wireless marketing plans, engineering services and comprehensive wireless strategies for cities and municipalities.

Ericsson Product Marries DAS and Small Cells

By J. Sharpe Smith

Ever since the wireless industry has been trying to crack the enterprise market as companies, DAS and small cell technologies have competed for the market.

Each one, however, had had their drawbacks. DAS used macrocellular base stations, which were unwieldy and expensive. Small cell systems were the right size but were married to a single carrier, which left users of other carriers out in the cold. Another challenge with DAS was, after buying the system, the enterprise would have to turn around and buy the signal sources separately and put them all together with the approval of the operators, according to Joe Madden, principal, Mobile Experts.

Ericsson has launched the Multi-Operator Radio Dot, which marries the multi-operator benefits of an active DAS solution with the size and aesthetics of the Radio Dot System. The Radio Dots can be shared between multiple operators, with one operator managing the system while others provide RF signals – similar to an active DAS. The new Ericsson product is what Madden refers to as “embedded DAS” where there is baseband processing in the headend for at least one of the operators.

“This is the first time that I have seen a small cell product that allows RF inputs from other small cells, Madden said. “Ericsson has acknowledged that there are other solutions out there and it offers a way for other signals to get into the distribution network and make it useful for multiple operators.”

The Ericsson Multi-Operator Radio Dot is similar to the multi-operator small cell product launched by Huawei during this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, according to Madden. The LampSite 3.0, however, will most likely not be available in the United States.

With the Ericsson Multi-Operator Radio Dot, the operators can use different equipment. For example, if an operator uses Nokia equipment, it could go into the building with a Nokia small cell, which would do all the baseband processing and connect to the Ericsson Multi-operator Dot, which would distribute the signal throughout the building.

“This is an incremental improvement on small cells and an incremental improvement on DAS,” Madden said. “With the Ericsson system, you buy one system that is already pre-approved by the operators and it has the signal source embedded in it, so you don’t have to buy separate pieces and put them together.”

Additionally, Ericsson introduced two other new products: the Multi-Dot Enclosure, which combines multiple Dots in a single enclosure to reduce the impact on building aesthetics of multi-operator deployments and the Strand-Mount Unit for outdoor micro radios, which is designed to make it easier to hang radios from on aerial coax, fiber, or electricity cables.

Mobilitie Highlights Small Cell Deployment Policies of Indianapolis

By J. Sharpe Smith

Indianapolis has become the second municipality to be recognized for improvements made to the city’s wireless networks with a “Connected City Award” by Mobilitie. The award, which has also been granted to Atlanta, highlights cities that embrace advancements in wireless technology and put into place streamline processes that facilitate infrastructure deployment.

There is a lot of talk about smart cities, but the wireless services that will improve lives in the future must all sit on an infrastructure with high capacity data throughput and low latency, according to Dana Tardelli, executive vice president at Mobilitie.

“A smart city, no matter how it is defined in the long run, must be founded on a connected infrastructure,” Tardelli said.

Richer communications services in the future will result in the need for 50,000 to 100,000 small cells per carrier in the near future. As 5G comes on line, that number could easily double, Tardelli said.

“As we consume more of the RF signals, there is a fundamental need to get RF closer to those users, Densification is everything,” he said. “Small sells are becoming extremely localized in street lights, on telephone poles and other places in the public right of way.

The lynchpin to that kind of small cell growth is the participation of the city through its application, zoning and siting processes as new nodes are increasingly deployed in the public rights of way.

To that end, Mobilitie is holding up Indianapolis as an example of how cities can establish clear processes, rules and an equitable economic structure to facilitate the accommodation of all of the needed small cells. The infrastructure provider hopes other cities will emulate its example.

“The cities play a huge role. The city of Indianapolis embraces this role. It is encouraging it. This is a city that has figured it out,” he said. “They figured out a process that serves their people, their rights of way, their own needs, whether they are zoning or aesthetic.”

While working on policy with officials at the state and federal levels, Mobilitie is active politically active in 5,000 municipal jurisdictions nationwide. Local relationships are very important, according to Tardelli.

“We are active at all layers, but none is more important than the city. Every community has different desires and needs that need to be understood and accommodated,” Tardelli said. “Regardless of the FCC regulations or state legislation, the city always manages what we call time, place and manner. We work closely with them to understand those needs and help them work within their systems.”

Connected City Criteria

Mobilitie looks at how a municipality sizes up in seven different areas to decide if it is to be a candidate to be a Smart City. Each city is judged on a scale of one to five, based on its leadership and community impact in the following key areas.  It must achieve a minimum aggregate score of 70.

  •  Leadership demonstrates initiative to improve wireless infrastructure throughout the city
  • Government uses clear policies that streamline the permitting and approval process
  • City provides unbiased costs for access to existing municipal infrastructure, including that which is in the right-of-way
  • Public and private sectors collaborate effectively
  • Partnership conducts process that is efficient and scalable
  • Infrastructure improvements drive economic development and job creation
  • Collaborative alliance addresses the digital divide, benefitting all residents, regardless of socioeconomic status

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. 

Integrated Lighting, Wireless in Light Poles Blends into Urban Areas

By Don Bishop

LED street lighting manufacturer Philips makes use of its trade with city governments to extend mobile and other wireless connectivity by integrating Ericsson small cell equipment with light poles.

Not only is society changing, but so is technology, Bill McShane, national director of the Philips Connected City Experience lighting venture, said. Technology is rapidly advancing, and the period between one generation of technology and the next is narrowing, he said. A collaboration between Philips and Ericsson is delivering street lighting equipment that contains 4G LTE wireless technology intended to support the internet of things while providing energy-efficient public lighting and improved mobile network performance in dense urban areas.

“Cities are looking for someone to bring financing. They’re looking for a partnership. They’re looking for a trusted advisor. And that’s what we bring when we talk to a city.”

— Bill McShane, national director of the Philips Connected City Experience lighting venture

Phillips is a branch of Royal Philips Electronics, a Dutch technology company with a focus on health care, lifestyle and lighting. Ericsson is a Swedish company that makes information communications technology (ICT) equipment that carries 40 percent of the world’s mobile traffic, according to the company’s statistics.

Philips SmartPole integrated LED lighting and small cell

Philips SmartPole with integrated LED lighting and small cell

Speaking at the AGL Local Summit in Boston, McShane mentioned that operators are pursuing ways to offload communications traffic from their mobile networks and instead carry the traffic using alternative technologies in the 3.5-GHz band. In support of the operators, he said Philips has taken a unique approach.

“The Philips Connected City Experience technology infrastructure is funded through a public-private partnership that we deliver to municipalities across the country as a service,” he commented. “We believe that this drives innovation, it creates jobs, it promotes economic development, and it also accelerates the LED technology that Philips brings to all the cities.”

Philips calls the light poles that integrate lighting with communications equipment SmartPoles. The company’s first examples of integrated lighting appeared last year in Los Angeles, where the mayor said the city took advantage of previously untapped real estate to give its streets better broadband connectivity and future-ready infrastructure while generating revenue for the city. The project expanded Philips’ relationship Los Angeles, which became the first city in North America to monitor and control its street lighting through Philips CityTouch, an advanced Philips streetlight asset management system that uses mobile and cloud-based technologies. The idea is that streets with better lighting have vehicle collisions and less crime, and connected management of street lighting reduces the amount of energy used and simplifies maintenance.

“Poles are reducing in size,” McShane said. “Poles are having a different aesthetic form factor. This evolution of the street poles, making them digital real estate, will continue.”

Some municipalities have been extremely receptive, McShane said. “They’re looking for someone to bring financing. They’re looking for a partnership. They’re looking for a trusted advisor. And that’s what we bring when we talk to a city. We take the word partnership seriously. We negotiate permitting and work with the zoning, and then we bring our customers into the fold.”

Other municipalities are seemingly incredulous about the possibilities, however. McShane said they don’t believe this wave of technology is coming, and they have adopted a wait-and-see attitude. In such instances, he said Philips brings experts with them to talk with city representatives. They try to educate municipal leaders and become a resource to help them meet the needs of residents, businesses and visitors who demand advanced mobile and interconnected wireless communications. He said cities are looking that wireless communications more as a utility.

Cities embrace the Philips Connected City Experience lighting venture, McShane said, because of funding, aesthetics and wireless technology. “One thing that Philips is able to do is to bring capital,” he said. “We also bring an aesthetically-pleasing way to deploy wireless communications to meet the needs of the residents, businesses, and visitors. And then we’re also bringing LED technology, so it becomes almost a triple win for the cities. That’s why they embrace what we’re doing.”

In developing its integrated lighting and communications products, Philips works with the wireless carriers, Ericsson and another electronics manufacturer, Nokia. Philips shows them its designs and works with them on radio-frequency (RF) planning. McShane said the process includes input from the carriers about the amount of equipment that needs to go into the light poles and the form factor that Philips is trying to bring to the cities.

The proliferation of small cells throughout communities is building the backbone smart cities, McShane mentioned. He said it will lead to the internet of things and whatever that becomes. “That’s why, when you’re developing small cell solutions, they have to be future-proofed to take smaller equipment, more equipment and a variety of equipment within them,” he said. “This is going to keep evolving rapidly. We’re talking about 5G by 2020 or 2021. If you think about it, it’s not that far away.”

McShane said Philips doesn’t become an infrastructure owner when it installs integrated lighting and wireless communications poles. “Once we install one of these stealth poles, the title goes back to the city, so we’re not in the business of owning poles,” he said. “We retain the right to lease the poles out. That’s our model, but it’s very possible that there could be other business models as this moves forward.”

As for helping to shape the regulatory environment for small cells, McShane said Philips doesn’t get involved. “We leave legislations in the hands of the legislators,” he said “We believe that communities should have the right to have something that’s aesthetically-pleasing for them. So we’ll let this whole situation just kind of work its way through the process. We’ll see what comes out and we’ll adapt to that.”


Don Bishop is the executive editor of AGL Magazine. He joined AGL Media Group in 2004. He was the founding editor of AGL Magazine, the AGL Bulletin email newsletter (now AGL eDigest) and AGL Small Cell Magazine.

A frequent moderator and host for AGL Conferences, Don writes and otherwise obtains editorial content published in AGL Magazine, AGL eDigest and the AGL Media Group website.

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