Tech

Small cells: Berlin advertising pillars get LTE from Telekom

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Telekom plans to equip around 200 advertising pillars in Berlin with small antennas for LTE by the end of the year. The installation of “small cells” in the public advertising media is intended to condense the existing cellular network and relieve the antennas on the roofs, the company announced on Tuesday. Telekom is working on the project with the operator of the advertising pillars and the Berlin state government.

The advertising pillar has been a popular public advertising medium since the 1850s and is still an integral part of the cityscape in Berlin. In the course of a change of operator, the roughly 2500 columns in the capital were dismantled two years ago. The Berlin Senate had re-tendered the management of the pillars and finally awarded it to the Stuttgart company Ilg Außenwerbung (IAW). The previous operator Wall had to dismantle the old pillars, some of which were contaminated with asbestos. Only a few listed examples remained.

Since last year, IAW has been building new advertising pillars from prefabricated concrete parts. The hollow pillars have enough space for the necessary technology. This is manageable with a “small cell”: power supply and meter, fuse box, fiber optic connection, radio technology and antenna fit well into the cavity. All the technology is already installed during the pre-assembly of the column in the IAW plant in Berlin, and the radio cell only needs to be connected to the electricity and grid at the installation site.

The antenna of the small cells is located in the cover of the column. “We primarily use antennas that supply the entire area around the advertising column with mobile communications in a circle,” explains Telekom project manager Lasse Tiede. “But directional antennas are also used. The specialty of Small Cells is their standardized structure, which makes it easier for us.” The LTE cells in Berlin’s advertising pillars transmit on the 2.6 GHz frequency and deliver up to 150 Mbit / s to the cell phone.

The idea is not new: Telephone cable distributors or transformer stations were installed in advertising pillars as early as the 19th century. The Telekom network planners are responsible for determining which locations are suitable for a small cell. They initially selected 200 columns in the capital, all of which should be “on air” by the end of 2021. Telekom considers a further expansion, also in other cities, to be “easy to imagine”. In the future, 5G could also be used, says Tiede: “There is enough space in the advertising pillars.”

In metropolitan areas like Berlin, Telekom and other network operators rely on small cells that can be attached to urban infrastructure such as lamp posts or shelters. There are also multifunctional housings with antennas in the roof and space for cellular technology. As part of an agreement with the Senate, suitable agencies will be identified in the capital. Telekom also wants to use this option for the further expansion of the 5G network.


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