CommScope Explains What IoT, 5G, and Smart Cities All Have In Common

CommScope's Morne Erasmus explains what IoT, 5G and smart cities all have in common.
CommScope's Morne Erasmus explains what IoT, 5G and smart cities all have in common.

Read any tech news story today and chances are high that you’ll see something concerning IoT, 5G or smart cities. These are all hot topics, but did you know all of them have CommScope in common?

To make things “smart” and improve overall efficiency, we connect IoT devices through a network to the cloud (and each other). Thus, anything “smart” requires connectivity, both wired and wireless, at least in most cases. The 5G networks of the future can bring refined connectivity to these edge IoT devices with higher speeds, more machine-to-machine connections, and extremely low latencies – enabling a brand new generation of applications and use cases that we haven’t yet thought of.

Once we connect all the eyes and ears (IoT sensors) of the world to the data center brain, we can begin generating intelligent information to drive new analytics and services. As well, more processing power is shifting to the edge, with the deployment of MEC (Mobile Edge Computing) moving closer to the particular endpoints and users to enable lower-latency applications.

All of these IoT edge devices and MECs need a home near to the users, that is why we are seeing city streetlights morphing into smart poles. Streetlights are uniquely spaced throughout the city; they provide power and altitude and are prepared for remodeling with LED replacements. Today, cities are eyeing 2 kinds of smart poles for replacing legacy streetlights:

  • IoT streetlight pole – A streetlight pole can support public Wi-Fi deployments, environmental sensors, gunfire detection and LED lighting control upgrades. Adding IoT edge devices transforms humble streetlight poles into smart IoT poles.
  • Telco pole – These are the typical small cell poles deployed by carriers or neutral hosts to support cellular connectivity in dense areas. These poles are designed for connectivity and will play a crucial role in 5G mmWave deployments. By adding IoT devices, simple telco poles become smart telco poles. With telco poles, the connectivity backbone delivering a path between the edge and also the cloud is already established, thereby enabling quicker deployments. Thanks to the larger type factor of small cell equipment, physical constraints should be an early and primary guideline for aesthetic concealment in cities.

It should be noted that smart poles are a part of a smart ecosystem and no single company can go at this alone. We are constantly asked if CommScope has any plans to create IoT sensors, software, apps or services for smart poles and our answer is “no, we need an ecosystem.” put simply, these interconnected products and services require multiple players to work harmonical to offer complex services.

This is why the industry must support an open ecosystem that enables customers to decide on their own edge devices, software, and cloud providers. This is notably important because of the long lifecycle (decades) of public projects compared to typical enterprise (years) engagements. Additionally, regulatory guidelines should also be considered.

At CommScope, we offer the physical layer for smart poles and do that exceptionally well. This starts with the fiber and copper solutions connecting all the racks inside a data center. From there, we offer outside fiber solutions to connect these data centers to the central offices (head ends) for the carriers and to the business/home or macro/metro cell tower. At these endpoints, we usually see the conversion from wireline to licensed or unlicensed spectrum wireless.

These wireless networks also are experiencing constant changes where licensed (4G/5G) and unlicensed (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LoRa, etc.) are commencing to converge. For instance, smart buildings are expected to produce reliable cellular coverage within the building along with ubiquitous Wi-Fi and support for IoT wireless networks. Add the upcoming CBRS private networking play and we shortly realize we are building multiple networks under one roof – all delivering ones and zeros to endpoints. How can all these networks converge in the future?

By providing the connectivity piece in this advanced puzzle, CommScope adds tremendous value to the client. we will still build out our ecosystem so we can provide complete solutions with our partners. So, the next time you read something regarding IoT, 5G or smart city projects, know that we at CommScope are providing the wired and wireless connectivity to make the world even smarter with our #smartcityconnectivity

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