Collaboration brings 4G connectivity to London bus shelters

2 mins read

The residents of and visitors to the London borough of Tower Hamlets will now be able to enjoy enhanced 4G mobile signal thanks to the installation of bus shelters with built-in small cell connectivity.

The connectivity infrastructure-as-a-service provider Freshwave and Clear Channel UK collaborated to devise a solution that will allow the technology to be seamlessly integrated into bus shelters across the London borough.

As a result, small cell technology - from any infrastructure-as-a-service provider - can be installed anywhere there’s a Clear Channel shelter and a requirement to increase network capacity in the area. Following the success of this new approach, the 5G-ready technology will now be added to further bus shelters in the borough in the coming months.

Out of Home media and infrastructure company Clear Channel UK manages the bus shelters which the small cells have been installed in on behalf of mobile network operator Virgin Media O2. Customer data usage is increasing by around a third annually and with 5G also meaning networks need to be densified, new ways of providing connectivity must be found.

Busy areas such as high streets, where bus shelters are already providing an essential public service, place greater demand on networks as more people are trying to use the mobile signal from the same macrocell. Outdoor small cells immediately increase access to top speeds and capacity in the area around them, making it easier for people to connect.

Using existing street assets, as opposed to building new assets, not only makes it faster and easier for the mobile operators to enhance their networks, it also reduces the amount of clutter on the streets.

This ability for Clear Channel’s bus shelters to host mobile technology provides a whole new set of options and locations for network operators. Bus shelters provide a robust structure and excellent capacity to carry the technology. And with the need for connectivity infrastructure only increasing, bus shelters are an exciting new option for operators as they seek to bolster their networks.

Commenting on the announcement Simon Frumkin, CEO at Freshwave, said, “Smart cities and towns need new approaches to digital connectivity. And the more existing street assets that can be used to bring this to our towns, the better it is for both the mobile network operators and the customers and communities they serve. This is why we’re already working on a multi-operator, multi-technology design for bus shelter use too.”

Pete Hollebon, Radio Network Engineering - Outdoor Small Cell and Microcell Delivery Lead at Virgin Media O2, added, “Collaboration with partners such as Freshwave and Clear Channel is crucial to delivering the best possible network experience for our customers. This industry-first achievement provides us with new options when it comes to our continual network improvements and we’re looking forward to adding the technology to further sites.”