NYC OKs 9 Providers to Expand 5G Coverage



New Yorkers can expect to see metal boxes start to proliferate just above their heads as the city announced ten new franchise agreements (covering nine companies) for providers to install 5G equipment on city-owned street light poles and traffic lights, as well as some privately owned utility poles.

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) announced Monday the approval of ten franchise agreements negotiated by DoITT for NYC. These agreements cover Crown Castle Fiber, Crown Castle NG East, Crown Castle Solutions, CSC Wireless, ExteNet Systems (ExteNet 1), ExteNet Systems (ExteNet 2), New Cingular Wireless PCS, New York SMSA Limited Partnership, Transit Wireless and ZenFi Networks. ExteNet Systems has two franchises because it bought one from another company.

Initially, these companies will be permitted to install 4G and 5G equipment on street lamps, traffic lights and certain utility poles, but the aim is to eventually install the kit on Link NYC public WiFi kiosks, bus shelters and automatic toilets, subject to further city approval.

The new agreements are expected to increase 5G coverage across the five boroughs of New York, building on the eight previous agreements that allowed providers to install street furniture in the city. Prior to this deal, the city has managed nearly 6,000 pole installations.

Meanwhile, the most recent New York deployments use a shroud -- a metal container for antennas and other gear -- that can contain millimeter wave (mmWave) antennas without blocking transmissions from the high-band equipment. "The new shrouds have 5G antennae and equipment built in, but the boxes accommodate both 4G and 5G," a DoITT spokesperson told Light Reading. "This shroud is expected to permit the transmission of 5G millimeter waves, which are unable to penetrate standard boxes that house current 4G equipment."

Why this matters
These agreements should help smooth out 5G deployments in NYC. The city contains 8.6 million people as of March 2018, so providing service within the city is crucial to US service providers, and these agreements might provide some clues for how other US cities provide 5G.

In towns and cities across the US, there is a battle going on about installing 5G small cells on various types of utility and light poles. This covers everything from the high costs of renting the pole, to whether the or not some street lighting can even handle the weight of the small cell, to how close these new small cells are to residents within the community. The core issue is that mmWave 5G will need many more radios to provide coverage than previous cellular technologies did, and this is provoking health concerns in many communities in the US, while simultaneously causing utilities to lick their lips over much revenue they can derive from the expected growth in small cell deployments.

This new deal should make it easier for at least some providers to operate within the Big Apple.

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— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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