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Small Cells Make a Big Impact on Smart Cities

By: Chelsea Collier, Senior Advisor to Texans for Economic Progress (TEP)

It seems as if everyone is talking about smart cities these days, and for good reason. There is a unique opportunity for city leaders to collaborate with the technology industry to create more connected, sustainable, livable, equitable and safer urban experiences.

There is a broad span of technologies that go into the making a smart city – sensors, lighting and data-collecting devices – but these are all but useless without high-speed wireless broadband and consistent access to power.  This was a primary focus of the Smart Cities Connect Conference & Expo in Austin, Texas where approximately 2,000 people came from around the world to discuss current trends and the potential for the future.

There were a variety of topics covered at the four-day conference co-located with US Ignite, but the focus was clearly on connectivity and energy – the foundational layer of smart cities.

And it is important to get the foundational layer right. According to a research study just published by Cisco, global mobile traffic is projected to increase sevenfold between 2016 and 2021. That level of activity requires a massive amount of network capacity. Cities that are prepared to escalate and enhance their connectivity will enjoy the benefits that high-speed brings.

So what can cities do to pave the path to enhanced network speeds? It’s a big question and the answer is all about small cells. Small cells add wireless capacity in a concentrated area, like a college campus or a city’s downtown. Approximately the size of an iPad, these nodes attach to streetlights and utility poles to expand capacity of existing 4G networks and will play an important role in the next generation network, 5G, which will offer lightning-fast speeds.

In a smart city, sensors will collect data on everything from traffic patterns to stability of bridges and waterways. We will have a plethora of devices transmitting information 24-7. The reliability and capacity of our wireless networks will be the element that determines which cities transform into truly smart cities and which ones stay stuck in the “old way” of doing things.

So it turns out that small cells are actually a pretty big deal. Let’s encourage the proliferation of this technology in every city in America – our smart city future depends on it.

Categories Blog | Tags: | Posted on July 17, 2017