Read any tech news article today and chances are you’ll see something about IoT, 5G or smart cities. These are all hot topics, but did you know they all have CommScope in common?
To make things “smart” and improve overall efficiency, we connect IoT devices through a network to the cloud (and each other). Thus, anything "smart" requires connectivity, both wired and wireless, at least in most cases. The 5G networks of the future will bring sophisticated connectivity to these edge IoT devices with higher speeds, more machine-to-machine connections and very low latencies – enabling a new generation of applications and use cases that we haven’t yet thought of.
Once we connect all the eyes and ears (IoT sensors) of the world to the data center brain, we can start generating intelligent data to drive new analytics and services. As well, more processing power is shifting to the edge, with the deployment of MEC (Mobile Edge Computing) moving closer to the actual end points and users to enable lower-latency applications.
All of these IoT edge devices and MECs need a home close to the users, which is why we are seeing city streetlights morphing into smart poles. Streetlights are uniquely spaced throughout the city; they provide power and altitude and are ready for remodeling with LED replacements. Today, cities are eyeing two types of smart poles for replacing traditional streetlights:
- IoT streetlight pole – A streetlight pole can support public Wi-Fi deployments, environmental sensors, gunshot detection and LED lighting controls upgrades. Adding IoT edge devices transforms humble streetlight poles into smart IoT poles.
- Telco pole – These are the typical small cell poles deployed by carriers or neutral hosts to support cellular connectivity in dense areas. These poles are built for connectivity and will play a critical role in 5G mmWave deployments. By adding IoT devices, simple telco poles become smart telco poles. With telco poles, the connectivity backbone delivering a path between the edge and the cloud is already established, thereby enabling faster deployments. Due to the larger form factor of small cell equipment, physical constraints should be an early and primary guideline for aesthetic concealment in cities.
It should be noted that smart poles are part of a smart ecosystem and no single company can go at this alone. I am constantly asked if CommScope has any plans to build IoT sensors, software, apps or services for smart poles and my answer is “no, we need an ecosystem.” Put simply, these interconnected products and services require multiple players to work in harmony to offer complex services.
This is why it is critical for the industry to support an open ecosystem that allows customers to choose their own edge devices, software and cloud providers. This is particularly important due to the long lifecycle (decades) of public projects compared to typical enterprise (years) engagements. In addition, regulatory guidelines should also be considered.
At CommScope, we provide the physical layer for smart poles and do that exceptionally well. This starts with the fiber and copper solutions connecting all the racks inside a data center. From there, we supply outside fiber solutions to connect these data centers to the central offices (head ends) for the carriers and all the way to the business/home or macro/metro cell tower. At these end points, we typically see the conversion from wireline to licensed or unlicensed spectrum wireless.
These wireless networks are also experiencing constant changes where licensed (4G/5G) and unlicensed (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LoRa, etc.) are beginning to converge. For example, smart buildings are expected to provide reliable cellular coverage inside the building along with ubiquitous Wi-Fi and support for IoT wireless networks. Add the upcoming CBRS private networking play and we soon realize we are building multiple networks under one roof – all delivering ones and zeros to endpoints. How will all these networks converge in the future?
By providing the connectivity piece in this complex puzzle, CommScope adds tremendous value to the customer. We will continue to build out our ecosystem so we can offer complete solutions with our partners. So, the next time you read anything about IoT, 5G or smart city projects, know that we at CommScope are providing the wired and wireless connectivity to make the world even smarter with our #smartcityconnectivity.