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March 21, 2019
Opening street furniture: another option for small cell cost-sharing

The UK’s current concessions model for small cell siting, is a barrier to 4G and future 5G investments. An alternative ‘open access’ model will hand back street furniture to local authorities. That should encourage further investment in 4G and 5G mobile services.

BT is calling for an end to the current ‘exclusive concessions’ infrastructure deployment model in UK cities which, it says, grants a single operator access to council owned ‘street furniture’ for siting telecoms equipment - lamp posts, CCTV columns and anything sticking up and capable of supporting a small cell.

Instead of this ‘exclusive concession model’ BT is proposing an ‘open Access Model’ which it claims will help speed further 4G small cell deployments, setting the scene for 5G to be added in to the small cell scenario in built-up areas.

To kick off the enthusiasm, BT has said it’s willing to sacrifice it’s own exclusivity arrangements to get the ball rolling. It says it will be holding a workshop next month with local authorities and UK mobile operators to discuss the possibilities.

BT’s New Small Cell Cost-Sharing Approach Validates mobilityView’s Opinion On 5G Network Infrastructure Costs

mobilityView went on the record last year and earlier this year about the relative cost of 5G infrastructure, and in particular the relative costs of Small Cell vs. Mast Cell approaches. BT’s offer to share some pretty valuable real estate demonstrates that given the current trends in LTE ARPU in Europe in particular that operators are being forced to do things that have been historically an anathema.

We are already seeing massive network sharing deals in the UK, Italy and elsewhere for Cellular Mast infrastructure and the same is now starting for Small Cell sites. These small cell sites don’t have the same type of scale-ability as traditional mast due to the sheer volume of small cells needed to theoretically cover the same geographic footprint vs Cellular Mast infrastructure.

Operators are going to be forced to price 5G plans VERY much higher than LTE even with these new network infrastructure arrangements…

Also has anyone thought about network congestion if you have multiple operators using the same infrastructure? What happens then in terms of the cost of the upgrade associated with the small cell… Lots of trucks are going to be on the road.

Opening street furniture: another option for small cell cost-sharing