The war for more spectrum is on. Between carriers, there’s a fight over how much of the 600MHz band each can take. Short-range, unlicensed LTE could prove a boon for venue managers who might hook an operator up with a lease. Furthermore, T-Mobile’s been fixing to take the towers to the customers themselves with its new 4G LTE CellSpots.
Now, municipalities have more leverage than ever to strike leases with the networks. It’s thanks in part to Philips and Ericsson as both team up to manufacture LED streetlights with embedded LTE antennas. Philips claims its SmartPole lighting can generate energy savings of between 50 and 80 percent. Ericsson is able to sell city government on a revenue source that will “zero-out” the SmartPoles’ upfront cost while carriers can fill in spots on their coverage map.
Los Angeles has just purchased 600 of these poles. The first hundred are being erected over the course of the next year while the rest will take an estimated four years to install.
Each pole connects to a network backhaul through a single fiber link. Poles will generally be closer to the general population than most cell towers would be in the city.
While there is safety in numbers, we can’t say if the SmartPoles will hold up during a major disaster — mudslide, earthquake, riot or else. We also don’t know how the leasing structure will work out — if one carrier wins the right to all 600 poles or if multiple carriers take over plots of poles.
We’re only in square two of the process, so there’s yet a reason to be excited.