Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Small Cells in BT Phone Boxes

Picture Source: Andy Sutton

In a news announcement yesterday, Vodafone said that they are planning to install 4G and 5G equipment to the underside of thousands of manhole covers across Britain to boost connection speeds in the busiest urban areas and meet the public’s insatiable demand for mobile data.

According to the report, Vodafone, which has hundreds of thousands of Cable & Wireless-branded manholes as part of its network, has developed the subterranean plan alongside Swedish telecoms equipment group Ericsson. The system is known internally as The Vault.

Attaching antenna equipment to the base of a manhole cover can boost the signal across a 200-metre radius, according to Vodafone, and could be critical in supporting future “smart city” technologies such as connected traffic lights. Installation does not require planning permission, which speeds up network build.

Vodafone and Ericsson have developed two types of system. One attaches equipment to the base of existing Victorian-era cast iron manhole covers. Another is a bespoke reinforced unit the size of a water butt that is sunk into the ground underneath a purpose-built cover.

We have blogged about Small cells infrastructure underground and in manhole covers. The following posts are related to that:
Phone boxes, which are connected to the power supply, are a useful tool to boost demand on high streets and in rural areas. Vodafone has signed a deal with BT’s wholesale division to install 4G antennas in phone boxes, and has kitted out one on Edinburgh’s Princes Street to improve coverage in time for the Hogmanay celebrations on New Year’s Eve.

The picture on the top from Andy Sutton is from Small Cells World Summit back in may. He says, "New life for old kiosks, KX100+ accommodating a 4G LTE small cell for enhancing mobile area capacity density"


ThinkSmallCell has a nice picture of the top of the KX100+ phone booth. In it's report on the Small Cells World Summit 2018, David Chambers says the following:

BT had the largest demo with a full size telephone box equipped with a small cell hidden in the roof space. Although only one Nokia small cell was fitted, the unit could accommodate several from different network operators. Each site is backhaul with either 100Mbps or 1Gbps managed Ethernet and transmits above head height using an omnidirectional antenna. It would seem we will shortly be making phone calls from telephone boxes again, just without realising it.

It would be interesting to see some more of these old phone boxes converted into small cell towers.

See also:
Here is a tweet containing picture of Ericsson's vault radio system for anyone interested:

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