Arqiva to roll out small cell network for its 14th London borough

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Waltham Forest in north-east London becomes number 14 in boroughs to offer lamp posts to Arqiva for 4G and 5G

Infrastructure company Arqiva has won a contract from the fourteenth local authority in London – out of 33 boroughs – to build small cells on lamp posts.

The latest deal is with the London Borough of Waltham Forest, in the north-east of the capital, running from the 2012 Olympic park to the Greater London boundary. It has a population of 271,000.

Nicolas Ott, managing director of telecoms and M2M at Arqiva, said: “Street furniture such as lamp posts has a crucial role to play in providing 4G signals to densely populated areas now, and preparing for 5G. We can see the arrival of 5G connectivity on the horizon and density of infrastructure is crucial to its delivery. This is particularly true for the future delivery of 5G fixed wireless access broadband to homes.”

The contracts with Waltham Forest follows similar lamp-post deals in August with Kingston upon Thames in south-west London and Lambeth in central London.

“Local authorities are recognising how important connectivity is for their residents and business and we are excited to be working with Waltham Forest as our 14th London borough partner,” said Ott.

As well as 14 boroughs in London Arqiva also has similar deals in Manchester, Southampton, Colchester, Eastbourne and Medway.

The latest contract – which runs for up to 10 years – allows Arqiva to use around 16,000 lamp posts across Waltham Forest. It will be able to use them for the deployment of small cell technology to help mobile network operators (MNOs) further expand mobile coverage and capacity over the coming years. Small cells will also be crucial to the delivery of 5G, said Arqiva.

“As data and voice usage increases exponentially, it is fast becoming essential for MNOs to deliver sufficient outdoor connectivity for their customers in dense urban areas,” said Ott.

Arqiva said it will also deploy Wifi access points – mounted on the same lamp posts – in town centres across the borough to provide free public access to services.

Ott added: “Arqiva’s portfolio of communications sites means we are uniquely able to help the MNOs deliver the required coverage and capacity, whether it is towers and rooftops for macro sites, or street furniture for small cells.”

Waltham Forest borough councillor Liaquat Ali, who is cabinet member for transformation and commercial services, said: “We use digital technology more every day to carry out jobs from ordering shopping and services, to keeping in touch with friends and relatives, to accessing council services. To do this we need fast online access – and that is precisely what this agreement brings for residents and visitors.”

In April the City of London, the authority that runs services in the central financial district of London, contracted Telefónica’s O2 UK to provide Wifi services in its area.

O2 will use small cells that are housed on lamp posts, street signs, buildings and closed-circuit TV columns to provide enhanced mobile coverage at street level, said the authority.