Mobile Network Policy – Key to Smart City

Wireless projects are increasing in complexity and diversity. City CIOs need a plan to achieve smart city goals while controlling costs.

Act Now to Avoid a Bottom-Up Approach

Multiple cellular operators want permits for ugly radio installations; fixed line operators what to dig up streets; internal projects for smart cities can be uncoordinated with digital inclusion or public safety. The result can be a patchwork of projects, lack of overall direction, and unnecessary costs. City CIOs need to develop a framework to manage this situation and organize a structure, achieve the goals, while managing costs.

Mobile Network Cells Get Smaller and Multiply

Broadband is essential to a strong economy. City governments are receiving more applications from mobile network operators wanting new radios, antennas and base stations within urban areas next to fiber or other transmission systems. Each MNO has its own agenda; put antennas and other equipment in the right spot and for the best price. However the right spot for the operator is not always the right spot for citizens or municipalities. But cellular infrastructure can blend into the environment and be discretely deployed. Developing an application and permitting procedure that treats all MNOs equally, while helping reduce time and costs, can benefit all parties. Streamline the processes with a common policy that does not delay installation and impose unnecessary conditions, and set practical size and weight limitations on pole-mounted devices. Projects should be coordinated and not sequential. The city gets improved communication services for citizens, and the MNOs meet their objectives (though not perfectly.) US Senate Bill 1451 minimizes time from application to deployment and lowers barriers of densifying 4G and introducing 5G.
Build a Network Strategy That Can Support Cellular Operators, as Well as Future Planned City Applications and Services
There are three ways to improve or extend communications networks within a city. First is to wait for existing MNOs to upgrade and leverage their service for city applications. Second, invest in city-owned infrastructure such as fiber. Third, form a private/public partnership with an MNO. Waiting is the most common approach, but could bring delays and doesn’t allow integration of city communications into the plan. Building out a city-owned fiber infrastructure that can be wholesaled for use by several MNOs for backhauling cellular traffic can accelerate deployment of improved MNO services. This dense-fiber infrastructure with power supply is much desired for increasing the capacity of 4G and future 5G. However, cities are rarely skilled at building an infrastructure suitable for MNO services, and this can be a risky capital investment with little experience at hand. Creating a partnership with one or more MNOs can provide the lowest-cost solution that does not require new skills. Sacramento partnered with Verizon on a 10-year agreement in which the city gets a public Wi-Fi network and Verizon gets access to street furniture for it’s 4G and 5G networks.  
In all cases of partnerships, the city government needs collaboration between their different departments to streamline the whole procedure. -Gartner

Build a network Strategy That Can Support a Variety of Applications

A strategy that builds on infrastructure that can be leveraged for a wide variety of digital service projects can bring new initiatives to fruition faster and at lower costs. Look to an infrastructure that can support the growing number of low-bandwidth, low-cost IoT initiatives, together with the ability to support data-hungry applications such as high-definition CCTV. Take into account that urban wireless relies upon a base fiber network for backhaul of traffic. According to Schreder Lighting, 90% of city street lighting is not yet converted to LED to reduce city energy bills. By adding modular lighting poles that can contain additional equipment every 300 to 600 feet, this infrastructure can be used for CCTV, digital information services, smart traffic and autonomous vehicle infrastructure, or public Wi-Fi. It can also be rented to MNOs for network buildout, offsetting the energy costs. Such initiatives require close cooperation between city departments and commercial communications service providers.

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