The sting in the siting tale

Cell site and planning authorisation is set to become a key strategic element of attempts to densify networks and build 5G grids.

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The following are excerpts from an article looking at site authorisation and planning in the latest issue of TMN Quarterly. To read the complete article click on the button above.

“In the UK it can take 18 months to get a site live, whilst in the USA legal objections and processes can delay matters indefinitely. Yet if 5G is going to be a reality, it will rely primarily on network densification to exploit spectrum reuse for high capacities, and edge networkworking for
low latencies.

siting stingThere is a concern, however, that current siting and planning approval processes will be a significant stumbling block to the deployments of future networks.”

5G and the FCC

“FCC chair Tom Wheeler went a lot further in a speech to CTIA in September, outlining a streamlined approvals process as one of the key aspects of enabling 5G rollout. Wheeler said that there could be a requirement for hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of new antennas. That’s hundreds of thousands, if not millions of siting decisions.

“There are just over 200,000 cell towers in the U.S.,” he said, “but there may be millions of small cell sites in the 5G future. If siting for a small cell takes as long and costs as much as siting for a cell tower, few communities will ever have the benefits of 5G.”

Vodafone, Telefonica and the UK

“Rob Matthews is head of planning at Vodafone, working with CNL — the newish name for Cornerstone, the partnership that Vodafone and Telefonica O2 initially struck up to establish passive element network sharing. So what would Matthews like to see
happen to make mobile network rollouts easier in the future? “First I would like to see accessing public land for digital infrastructure speeded up. We’ve seen some areas of the Government portfolio where it gets protracted — so that could really help speed up areas with no coverage.
Second, to be able to upgrade under code notice is a huge step in the right direction and we are seeking for more ability to upgrade under the code. Where we need new sites that would speed things up hugely.”

Meanwile in China

It is is in China that CCS’ Greaves has been most impressed by co-operation between planners, site owners and the operator. Here, Greaves describes visiting an urban location where small cells were due to be installed to improve coverage and capacity, with the local government, the infrastructure owner and the mobile operator walking the streets together and choosing locations, with installation done by the end of the week. “From my point of view it was a completely new experience,” he says.

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