Even Telephone Poles Are Getting Smarter

Carl Weinschenk

Telecommunications and IT folks are accustomed to new technologies in their fields. In another realm, however, a revolution is going on to which they should pay attention: Long-lasting and efficient LEDs are replacing legacy lighting technologies.

It’s a widespread evolution, reaching from the bedroom to streetlights. In at least one case, this technology is intersecting the rapidly changing telecommunications landscape. Telephone poles are perfectly placed to accommodate LTE and 5G small cells – which are far more numerous than macro towers.

It makes sense – and is happening. Philips Lighting’s SmartPole technology combines LED streetlights with LTE. In Los Angeles, 100 will be rolled out during the next year, with 500 more over the four succeeding years.

When It Comes, 5G Will Be Big

Ericsson says that Asia and the United States will drive tremendous early growth in 5G use. There will be, according to the company, 150 million 5G users by the end of 2021.

The report at Lightreading on the Ericsson research said that the Asian growth will center in China, Japan and South Korea. That growth, the report said, would be greater than the same period in the development of LTE. The vendor predicts that the number of cellular subscriptions will rise from 7.4 billion this year to 9.1 billion in 2021.

Pilotless in Seattle

Bad news for municipal broadband supporters came out of Washington, a state usually friendly to such projects, this week. The Seattle City Council voted down a municipal broadband pilot project that would have brought government fiber to the North Beacon Hill neighborhood.

The $5 million project would have been a test of the feasibility of a much larger project. Geekwire suggests that the pilot failed because things look dim for the larger one:

The mayor’s office has opposed the larger municipal broadband initiative, saying the $480 million to $665 million project simply isn’t possible without some type of outside funding. Seattle CTO Michael Mattmiller and Ben Noble, director of the Budget Office, wrote a letter to the council ahead of today’s vote discouraging members from supporting the pilot program.

The Frightening IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT)couldn’t come at a worse time,” according to Lee Badman, a wireless network architect for an unnamed large private university. The idea is that the onslaught of wireless devices is creating havoc. Adding the IoT will radically increase the chaos:

The technologist in me loves that everything under the sun can eventually connect, but my WLAN admin side knows the penalties and pain that that these devices bring. Traditional worries of how to simply address them all are solved by NAT and IPv6, but we’re facing a raft of other issues. To begin with, more non-technical folks will own IoT devices, and when those devices don’t work right, the usual ‘blame the network first’ effect will be greatly magnified.

Badman goes into detail, but the overall point is that the combination of wireless and the IoT puts IT departments, and the organizations for which they work, into highly risky and nerve-wracking new territory.

Three Companies Combine Licensed and Unlicensed Spectrum

Vodafone said this week that it has worked with Ericsson and Qualcomm to aggregate licensed and unlicensed spectrum.

The companies used the Ericsson RBS 6402 small cell and a device by Qualcomm containing the Snapdragon X12 modem, according to WirelessWeek. The test successfully coupled 20 MHz of licensed spectrum in the 1800 band and 20 MHz in the unlicensed 5 GHz band. The overall download speed achieved was 274 Megabits per second (Mbps), the story said.

The wireless and cellular industries are battling over the ways in which cellular carriers will use unlicensed spectrum. This demonstration will likely do little to help calm the contentious issue.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.


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