Mobile Devices

Deploying 5G networks with mmWave streetlight repeaters

04 May 2022
5G mmWave repeaters can be installed into existing streetlights and the spacing of these lights allows for locations to be available across a city in a short amount of time. Source: Pixabay

Ubicquiz and Movandi have formed a partnership to develop millimeter wave (mmWave) smart repeaters that plug into streetlights to expand 5G coverage in cities.

The mmWave repeaters can be installed in existing streetlights and the persistent power, 50 meter space and 8 to 10 meter heights make millions of site-ready locations available with the solution being able to plug into a light photocell socket in minutes. This also reduces the time and money on building new poles for 5G radio base stations and pulling fiber to them.

Additional features include:

  • These repeaters are barely visible at street level and can be deployed in a few minutes with just one trip to the pole.
  • The repeaters are managed into the cloud.
  • The technology meets utility power, protection, metering weight and wind loading requirements.
  • The repeaters ensure outdoor coverage and extend the range of 5G mmWave and redirect the signal around obstacles.
  • The technology locks onto host RAN signals automatically to ensure repeater-to-repeater connectivity without fiber connectivity.
  • The repeaters integrate major RAN/Open RAN technologies including Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and Samsung while supporting global mmWave spectrum bands.
  • The technology integrates Movandi mmWave 5G RF technology and reference design platforms including RF semiconductors, custom phase array antenna modules, algorithms and software like cloud APIs for management, control and artificial intelligence/machine learning analytics.

“Streetlight mounted repeaters present an incredible opportunity to dramatically speed up deployment schedules, streamline many regulatory and installation approval steps, and save money,” said Joe Madden, principal analyst at Mobile Experts. “In our assessment of a small city requiring 950 new 5G mmWave radio base stations (gNBs) for full coverage, we found that using 100 streetlight mounted gNBs and 850 repeaters reduces 10-year TCO by over $13 million or 35% and by $89 million or 80% compared to a gNB only utility pole configuration. Our conclusion is that streetlight deployment is absolutely the way to go.”


5G mmWave is considered “true 5G” to meet the speeds expected from the next generation wireless technology — 10 times the speed, higher bandwidth and lower latency than 4G. However, the technology is problematic in that it does not travel far in its current form, especially indoors. The higher frequency transmissions are interrupted while traveling between obstacles such as trees, buildings or walls, disconnecting the service from the user. While sub-6 GHz technology can flow through obstacles easier, it does not have the ability to generate the speeds promised by 5G.

According to Movandi, mmWave enables up to 100 times more capacity than current sub-6 GHz 5G but its propagation distance is typically less than 250 meters and does not turn corners or penetrate buildings.

Because of this, 5G mmWave networks will require more sites than mid-band networks, creating challenging deployment economics particularly in less populated areas. Smart repeaters are seen to help with the propagation distance, expanding coverage to customers at a smaller cost.

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