Neutral host specialists play important 5G roles in Europe, 5G | Popgen Tech


The first outdoor 5G small cell to be deployed in the City of London, the financial heart of the British capital, has been installed by neutral hosting infrastructure firm Freshwave in a move that shows how important such telecom independent network operators will be as communications service providers. are expanding their high-speed mobile data coverage and starting to implement their 5G densification strategies.

And Freshwave, which describes itself as an infrastructure-as-a-service provider, isn’t the only neutral host player boasting year-end 5G progress in Europe, as Cellnex has won a pair of deployment contracts in France, Spain and Portugal received. (but more on that later).

In London, Freshwave has deployed a bespoke centralized RAN small cell solution across 10 small cell sites along the 1.1km of Queen Victoria Street that can be used to provide mobile services to any of the UK’s licensed mobile network operators. EE (the consumer arm of BT Group) is part of the pilot and its customers can already get 4G and 5G services from the small cells. Virgin Media O2 has also signed up and its customers will be able to connect to the pilot’s infrastructure early next year, while Vodafone UK is expected to join the pilot during the first quarter of 2023. No timeline was provided for Three UK’s involvement.

Using the same underlying infrastructure means that the operators don’t each have to run their own kit in hard-to-reach areas, saving both time, resources and money. It also makes for a more sustainable urban mobile architecture.

Designed in collaboration with all four of the UK’s mobile network operators, the Freshwave solution consists of “specially designed broadband antennas, cabinets and columns and large amounts of dark fiber to each cabinet”. The fiber connection is provided by alternative wholesale access network operator Netomnia, while the small cell infrastructure was deployed with the help of a concession from Freshwave partner Cornerstone, a UK mobile network services company.

“Shared digital infrastructure is the logical evolution in telecommunications as cities become more connected and smarter,” commented Freshwave CEO Simon Frumkin. “Companies like Freshwave using the neutral hosting model help accelerate this connection for everyone, as the model is more cost-effective, greener and less disruptive,” he added.

Across the English Channel, European neutral hosting giant Cellnex has been awarded four contracts by the European Commission to build out 5G network infrastructure in “road corridors” linking Spain with France (Barcelona to Montpellier/Toulouse, and Bilbao to Bordeaux) and Spain with Portugal (Salamanca to Porto, and Vigo and Mérida to Évora).

The deployments are part of the commission‘s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF2) Digital programme, and will provide “high-quality, uninterrupted 5G connectivity for road safety services” and “connectivity services to vehicle users and passengers along these corridors”.

Cellnex will deploy 34 new telecom sites – including distributed antenna systems (DAS) in tunnels – and “plans to work with mobile operators using its neutral host model, complemented by a V2X communications infrastructure network and edge computing nodes to bring 5G connectivity to more than 1,400 km of these four cross-border corridors.”

The total cost of the deployments will be around €24 million, half of which will be financed by the commission. To find out more, see this announcement.

– Ray Le Maistre, editorial director, TelecomTV


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