To accelerate the roll out of 5G, the country’s telecom operators will use bus shelters to install street furniture such as poles, advertising hoardings and low-power base stations called ‘small cells’ that will help bring the network closer to customers.
“Unlike previous generations like 4G, 5G requires smaller cells to deploy because of the frequency. The higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength, which means the distance they travel is shorter,” said SP Kochhar, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India.
He added that for higher frequencies in the 3.3-3.6 GHz range, which are expected to be used to deliver 5G services, the waves will travel about 100-150 meters. At present, telecom towers about 30 meters high are placed at a distance of about 5 km.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has also issued an advisory in this regard Use of street furniture for small cell and aerial fiber deploymentWhere it says small cells will play a key role in the success of 5G as they are needed to exploit 5G features such as low latency (minimum delay time), ultra-high speeds and massive connection densities.
Small cells are low-power radio access nodes or base stations that have a coverage range of a few meters to hundreds of meters. They are portable, easy to deploy and help provide local coverage According to TRAI’s paper, small cells provide coverage for very short distances and are therefore installed in large numbers – even more than 200 per square kilometer – for good geographical coverage to provide highly reliable and high-capacity broadband.
Mr. Kocher added that low height (6-7 m) poles are sufficient for deploying small cells, and a good ecosystem of such poles already exists in the form of street lighting, electricity and traffic poles. “We expect to cover about a 100-meter radius from each pole so that the coverage is adequate,” he said.
Leveraging existing road infrastructure will also save the hassle and investment required to install roadside poles, especially in highly populated areas.
Most countries are in the process of studying and initiating small cell architectures for 5G rollout, TRAI notes. It is estimated that 1.56 million private 5G small cells will be deployed worldwide by 2027.
The telecom department also notified revised Right of Way (RoW) rules last week, which paves the way for deployment of 5G small cells on existing road infrastructure, and hopes that these reforms will enable the rollout of 5G services in the country by October 2022.
The amendments include rationalization of charges, introduction of single window clearance system and removal of requirement of consent of public authorities for setting up infrastructure on private property.
To facilitate faster 5G roll-out, ROW application procedures for small cells have now been simplified and telecom licensees will be able to use road infrastructure to install telecom equipment at a cost of ₹150/year in rural areas and ₹300/year in cities. the area
According to the revised rules, telecom licensees can enter into agreements with private property owners and will not require permission from any government authority to install telecom infrastructure such as towers, poles or optical fibres.
Additionally, no administrative fee will be charged for installation of poles on land owned/controlled by the Central Government. For States/UTs, this fee will be limited to ₹1,000 per poll. Fees for laying overground optical fiber will be capped at ₹1,000/km.