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TRAI starts consultation on use of street furniture for 5G deployment

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today issued the Consultation Paper on “Use of street furniture for small cell and aerial fiber deployment”.

Street furniture like utility poles, billboards, lamp posts, traffic signals, and public structures like gazebos, bus stops etc. provide utility services to city dwellers but with little or no change, they can also be utilized to mount small cells and aerial fibers for providing telecom services as well. Street furniture are under various public and private authorities that have administrative jurisdictions in municipal bodies, smart city administrations, government departments, railways, airports, ports and metro train systems, stadia etc. Granting access to street furniture by these controlling authorities could remove a significant hurdle in 5G small cell deployment in the country. In turn, 5G when deployed on infrastructure owned by these authorities creates a win-win situation where the authorities can be benefited from 5G use cases like smart waste disposal, smart traffic light, smart metering, smart grid monitoring, disaster management, automation, energy management, new streams of revenue generation etc. Facilitating high quality internet-based services for education, health care, citizen services, entertainment, work from anywhere, financial services etc. by way of small cell and aerial fiber deployment on the street furniture would be a right step towards building a digitally inclusive society. The use of public street furniture will obviate the need to have greenfield deployment of towers or poles for small cells and fiber thus bringing down the capital expenditure and time involved for rolling out the networks and services. This sharing of infrastructure amongst various entities is also in sync with PM Gati Shakti initiative.

The aspects that need to be considered for the deployment of small cells on street furniture, inter- alia, includes identifying the suitable street furniture based on availability of backhaul and power, deployment heights, load bearing capabilities of street furniture for mounting suitable equipment, scalability, and concerns related to local approvals. Further, some other issues like sharing of the street furniture amongst various users, permissions needed for power supply under state electricity laws, exemptions or bulk permissions for small cell deployment etc. will also requires to be addressed.

With this background, the Authority, through the present Consultation Paper intends to seek the inputs of stakeholders on issues related to outdoor small cell and aerial fiber deployment using street furniture for the successful rollout of next generation networks in the country.

The Consultation paper has been placed on TRAI’s website. Written Comments on the Consultation Paper are invited from the stakeholders by 20th April 2022 and counter-comments, if any, by 4th May 2022.

CT Bureau

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