When it comes to the outdoor and public right-of-way, densifying networks in preparation for widespread 5G rollout can become complicated. There exists a range of hurdles to deployment, including the availability of poles and other locations, the concerns from municipalities over visual clutter, public safety and beyond. Especially in already dense metro areas, provisioning the added capacity for growing data requirements is a challenge that many businesses are having to find solutions to now in order to ensure their networks can function well into the future.
To drive conversation on this topic, the 2019 NEDAS NYC Summit, an event focusing on discussion and education at the intersection of wireline and wireless, delivered a panel titled Construction and Engineering Challenges for 5G Densification. This session offered vital insights into how businesses are tackling the outdoor space when it comes to building networks and deploying small cells and other densification infrastructure.
One of the major concerns that panelists noted was a lack of information about underground utilities. For construction firms and other entities that are designing foundations for 5G on poles, underground utility information is practically non-existent. This can lead to issues such as high failure rates between deployment planning and actual execution. When sites are chosen for densification work, many times teams will show up and encounter unforeseen roadblocks, which forces the team to start the site acquisition and permitting processes all over again, among other tasks. Heading forward, ensuring that businesses can properly do their due diligence will be paramount to successful densification. To avoid this, panelists promote scanning the ground during the design phase to get the best picture of what is there and what may need to be worked around.
Another unique challenge of working in the public right-of-way is that of safety. Not only do construction entities have to ensure that the site is safe for the individuals that are working on it, but this kind of outdoor deployment offers the unique situation of working very close to the general public. This means ensuring that the site is safe both for vehicles traveling along nearby roads and for pedestrians walking by. Keeping pedestrians out of the work zone and safely guiding them around it is a key consideration here, as is implementing traffic control or detours (which means more permitting). Failing to follow the rules that come with working alongside the public means that there is a very real risk of getting derailed by local law enforcement.
Overall, the critical takeaway here is that ensuring all aspects of deployment and construction are considered and managed is very important. Doing thorough research and in-depth checks and ensuring the public is adequately managed during the process is the only way to certify that deployments are completed smoothly. Getting the ‘OK’ from the stakeholders (for instance the pole owners if a deployment is happening on an existing pole, the eventual client or owner of the small cell, the municipality, etc.) is also critical. If something is not planned for in the beginning, massive amounts of time can be lost, projects will fail to be completed and networks will fall behind. While working in the outdoors brings about a new set of considerations, network densification remains a key aspect of the road to 5G.
To get a more in-depth look at this topic, please click here to view the entire panel presentation.
To learn more about NEDAS, please visit www.nedas.com.