Ericsson and Philips unite mobile broadband and LED lighting to provide greater network coverage in urban areas

MWC: Philips and Ericsson combine LED and broadband

Telecommunications giant Ericsson and electronics maker Philips have collaborated to provide mobile broadband connectivity through smart, sustainable LED street lighting in dense urban areas.

Announced at Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, the project, dubbed ‘Zero Site’, will see Ericsson integrate its technology into Philips lighting hardware, turning lighting poles into mini mobile basestations. The lighting poles range from eight metres to 12 metres in heights and are embedded with antennas, multi-base-band units, power, battery, and cooling and remote site controller.

It has been designed to solve two common city problems: the increase in mobile data usage and the need for cities to become more sustainable. The partnership will provide improved network performance and broadband coverage, along with high-quality yet energy-efficient public lighting.

As is often the case, mobile operators are required to expand their network coverage, but zoning approval for large mobile base-stations can be difficult. This project will use pre-existing lighting infrastructure and enable mobile operators to rent a space and integrate their own mobile broadband technology in the lighting poles, which financially can help governments generate income.

By using LED street lights, Philips reckons it can generate energy savings of 50 to 70 per cent, but when integrated with smart controls the savings can reach to 80 per cent.

“Consumers are craving for more mobile data, especially when 4G capability is everywhere, but the challenge for operators is obtaining more sites, permits and zoning approvals. These types of approvals can take up to two years, but reusing existing infrastructure can reduce this,” said Ericsson’s vice president of product line site products Cecilia De Leeuw.

She added: “Energy consumption is a huge issue in all cities as well as being cash-strapped with huge operating budgets and have little leverage to raise capital; Zero Site will enable us to raise capital by renting out space and renovate street lighting at the same time.”

The pilot was first launched in North America due to a high LED penetration, but will now roll out in Europe, however Ericsson and Philips were unable to disclose where.

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