ZenFi CEO: More Small Cells on the Way in NYC

NEW YORK -- Small cell deployments in NYC are beginning to grow exponentially thanks to 5G, according to Ray LaChance, CEO of ZenFi.

LaChance spoke about the growth in NYC small cell deployment in a panel discussion at Light Reading’s third-annual 5G Transport & the Edge event in Times Square Thursday. ZenFi is a key player when it comes to deploying small cells in NYC and Northern New Jersey.

La Chance says that around 10,000 small cells have been deployed in the New York area over the last ten years. Now 6,000 to 7,000 small cells are awaiting regulatory approval to be deployed this year, LaChance says.

This is good news for 5G coverage in NYC. The technology will need many more small cells to achieve good coverage for the cellular standard, particularly with new millimeter-wave frequencies (28GHz and 39GHz) that have poor range characteristics (1,000 to 2,000 feet coverage).

City regulations are, of course, still the big obstacle to small cells being speedily deployed. The FCC passed a Declaratory Ruling that set limits on fees and review periods that cities could apply to wireless network operators seeking to install small cells for network densification and 5G in September 2018.

Nonetheless, cities all across the US are still fighting telecom providers in a neighborhood-by-neighborhood battle to stop providers from installing 5G transmitters on light poles and traffic signals. To install these transmitters, companies first need permission from the city councils that oversee this so-called "street furniture."

But while small cell regulatory requirements are still a problem in many US cities, like Denver, ZenFi’s LaChance’s latest numbers suggest that small cell density may be less of a problem in NYC in the future.

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— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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