Something tells us that the new norm is already here and now. Clearly, the entire business ecosystem starts to change: real estate owners reinvent the purpose of office centers, people start to commute less and demand more home office space, telecom operators watch the enormous traffic growth and the new profile of the traffic, and the IT infrastructure for remote work is more important than ever before.
All these changes would translate to the need for more in-fill capacity in dense, urban areas and further strengthening of the infrastructure to meet the shift in mobile & Internet usage from industrial to residential.
We all know that 5G deployment requires huge investment in the development of robust communication infrastructure but also the necessity to resolve important issues concerning the 5G connectivity rollout, e.g. mobile site acquisitions, tower equipment placement, land valuations, energy resources allocation and many other.
In the UK, the current Electronic Communications Code (the Code) which governs the rights to maintain the infrastructure of MNOs’ telecom equipment on public and private land brings some uncertainty in the market. It forces telecom operators and landowners to sue for further clarity. Key dispute area in these cases is valuation. Valuation is broken down into Consideration and Compensation. Consideration is the amount that the operator will pay the landlord according to the Code agreement. Historically, operators paid on the basis of the site as it was worth for them. Now it’s based on the market value of the underlying land or the rooftop. Compensation is the amount of losses the landlord incurs for the installation of mobile infrastructure.
Cleary, that costly and time consuming litigations can not be the best way for operators and landowners to solve the problem. Taking into consideration that some litigations last for more than 6 months(!), it must be in all parties’ interests to find a way to agree on consensual deals on the Code principals so that we can all enjoy the benefits of mobile connectivity.
The same critical issues are happening in India, where the Tower & Infrastructure Providers association industry body urged the Government to solve the issues regarding right of way, lack of uniform charges, unavailability of online portal and multi-body approvals before the rollout of 5G connectivity in the country.
We understand and appreciate the concerns of the UK and India Tower authorities, however, would like to highlight the higher scope of problems we have seen in the markets where the rollout of 5G has already started. A good example is the USA, where Verizon by deploying 5G mmWave services into 60 cities, already faces enormous problems.
Due to the physics governing transmissions in such bands, signals in mmWave spectrum can only travel a few thousand meters at the most and often cannot travel through obstacles like buildings, trees and glass. As a result, Verizon and other operators building mmWave networks have been forced to construct more small cell transmissions sites. Verizon said it expects to build five times more small cell sites in 2020 than it did last year. The operator faces a lot of uncertainty with the small cells’ placement, difficulties with the dense network planning and the acquisition of the new mobile sites.
The huge number of mobile towers and small cells is an integral part of 5G deployment, but unfortunately, not the only issue. As we all know, telecom vendors have not yet produced ergonomic radio equipment. Today the equipment looks like grey square boxes. 10 years ago, there were only a few radio sets on city roofs. Streetlights were not filled with antennas and radio equipment were hidden and diluted among other urban furniture like chimneys, pipes. However, MNOs and constructors while pursuing rollout demand, almost forgot about the architectural outlook of the city. These days we will not find the roof without a radio set placed on it. We also mentioned that 5G in 3,5 GHz will increase the number of base stations in 3-5 times, mm waves in 5-10 times. What does it mean? It means that antennas and radio units will be everywhere. It looks scary!
It is saying that 70% of LTE and 5G users are indoor. How will 5G signal reach the users if the majority of the base stations are outside of the yards / house communities and mostly located in the high streets close to highways? These days, every yard or gated community looks like a castle thanks to Roman architecture heritage. LTE and 5G signal’s strength and propagation can be compared with direct arrow flight. If no arrows reach the yard, we will not have a strong signal, so we would not be able to experience the full richness of next generation services.
The solution for the good propagation is an installation of massive MIMO antennas on every single roof. Like the way an American MNO installed massive MIMO antennas in NYC (on the photo below).
Any towerco understands the pros and cons of it. Key negative factor is the difficulties with fast and accurate deployment and the high price of placement because of the landlord’s appetite. Again, we can say that consensual deals according to the Code are vital for us to enjoy the benefits of mobile connectivity which is more important than ever before.
Cleary, more choices of connectivity are needed. And why now? In our view, the power of 5G is getting to the point where you need to have an option or the ranges of the performance which are very different than in LTE. You need a very high performance for some and a consumer’s performance level for others and of course you need to be able to scale in and scale out. Why? Because you want to serve the industries and Enterprises. In the LTE era you have served the Enterprises, as an actually a large group of consumers but in the Enterprise’s settings. In the 5G era it’s completely different — you service an industrial component. 5G is able to provide extremely low latency and high reliability services for these Enterprises. As well as the capacity they need for wireless services to support their industrial infrastructure, like robotic conveyors and etc. Therefore, it requires many different configurations in the RAN for 5G – it means more choice. So we can say that massive MIMO antennas could be installed either in the large public traffic hubs or close to Enterprise sites. What about other users who also would like to experience new 5G services, taking into account that the new models of smartphones would be all about 5G services?
Another good example! Think about some architectural masterpieces, a city, say like Barcelona which deserves 5G coverage but hopefully, without antenna rows on the roofs and balconies. Do we have any ways to gain it? Yes, but unfortunately, the ergonomic and beautiful placement of the equipment is not in MNO’s and Towerco’s interest and not in the agenda at this moment. Such placement is more expensive and technically complicated than ordinary placement on the roof and ground.
Nowadays it’s hard to imagine a modern city without LTE coverage. More and more often one can notice an increasing number of infrastructure objects which provide fifth dimension: to be online everywhere. Especially mm waves will broadband from every iron, and radio phobia fears start actively push its ways in mass media and blogs. No one wants to live among antennas because it’s not comfortable psychologically. Transport emission presents fear too. However, we do not see it and therefore, we think that it did not bring serious harm for mankind. Its opposite to the radio antennas, our visual perception when we walk on the street has influence on our mood and psychical and health state. New antennas’ structures shock when appear unpredictable and without obvious explanation and education of the inhabitants.
Another interesting aspect we would like to elaborate, 5G deployment is very friendly in the suburban areas. As have mentioned that many people these days prefer to work from their homes, often it’s a private house located in the suburban area.
Suburban areas do not have complicated engineering networks and tall buildings. And their landlords seem to be more friendly. Population is less than in cities and traffic is more constant. Deployments in rural areas have significantly increased as the UK’s shared rural network program started. And usually an engineering network of a village does not have high density and complexity. It leads to ability to apply the state-of-the-art infrastructure solutions for the existing new generation coverage. MNOs and TowerCos have great opportunity to build green 5G infrastructure in the villages which will be included in habitual outward things. The last 9 months have demonstrated that a village is more suitable and safer for life and paper coffee сup in the morning. Moreover, the generation Z wants to bring a city capital to their native corners.
|Nickelsdorf village, Austria
Governments of many countries where 5G deployment takes place need to close the loopholes in the Code which are holding back progress and also to find ways to fit more 5G equipment into existing architectural city infrastructure and to hide it and make it invisible.
And if the Code and telecom equipment placement harmony is not working as intended, this presents a significant threat to the digital strategy and the economic benefits it is about to bring.
We are pleased to see that some steps to improve the situation are taken. In the UK, the initiative called Speed up Britain tries to influence the operators, agents and landowners to find the best way to reach the consensus agreement on the Code principles. How do operators go to the new sites to acquire the right? What are the safe guards for property owners? How to reach harmony between landowners and MNOs / TowerCo? How should the simple agreements to deploy and share would look like? What is the reasonable framework how much should be paid for the land? All these questions should be answered before the 5G rollout will take a full swing.
Constructive Solutions Partnership, a small but nimble company, we also try to find a way to get things done. We suggest that MNOs and TowerCos develop not ordinary approaches and to store their equipment underground or in the specially designed bunkers. We have invented a bunker to be able safely and secretly locate communication facilities to diminish the cities external architecture distraction and also to decrease the people concerns about radiophobia. Bunker also beneficial for the TowerCos as it helps to prevent thefts, accidents, corrosion vandalism. Moreover, our solution or subterranean data center equipped with automated engineering systems and designed for easy access for staff. Its space could be shared by MNOs placing base stations, host companies with their EDGE servers, ISPs with routers and repeaters, power engineers with power points and electricity meters, etc. and Towercos can even get additional rent. It gives the opportunity to avoid vandalism and calm the unrest. (не поняла я что сказать ты хочешь…, напиши по-русски и я переведу)
We also believe that using «dynamic site» fee-based business model as a valuation of the cost of the land instead of the market value could be a good solution. «Dynamic site» business model allows TowerCo to charge the fees based on the traffic volumes approach. The more traffic generated by the certain technology, e.g. LTE rather than 2G, the higher the rent for the LTE equipment spot on the site or pole. TowerCo can monitor the energy consumption of each technology – 2G, 3G, LTE, 5G. So if mobile site equipped with 5G radio heads with massive MIMO antennas would be placed but this equipment does not really services many clients as not yet many people can afford to buy the 5G handset than the most fees are for LTE equipment and 5G equipment sits on the tower and waits for its best time without any charges. Perhaps, this business model would be appealing to the MNO and TowerCo and will engage them to lead the conversation with the government authorities and the healthy discussions with the landowners.
Yes, indeed, we firmly believe that the connectivity is more important than ever before and our cities should remain beautiful and free of radiation hysteria.