Smart Wireless Broadband Technology for Smart Cities

Smart Wireless Broadband Technology for Smart Cities

Posted 12/5/2017 by Neil Bullock

The next generation of wireless communications equipment will need to be able to integrate with traffic lights, street lights and bus stops. It must become smaller, lighter, low-power. It must also become more modular to accommodate a wide range of services, from 5G to metro Wi-Fi to NB-IO, and make it easier to integrate and deploy in new systems. GigaRay 60 GHz module sets from Lattice Semiconductor accelerate this trend and make adding gigabit-class wireless backhaul and access quick and easy.

The era of heavy-iron outdoor telecom equipment is over. The wave of installations of tall towers, large cellular base stations and microwave dishes of the last round of telecom investment is largely complete. Due to the hyper-local nature of the next generation of data services, the future of communications in the urban environment is a dense mesh of small nodes, mostly interconnected wirelessly, coupled with fiber backhaul to the core network. This will bring about significant changes to ‘street furniture’ such as traffic lights, street lights and bus stops as they adapt to the new order. It will also bring change to the way that communications equipment is designed in order to make it more compatible with the street furniture that it integrates with.

Examples of the blending of traditional city services such as lighting and traffic management with communications are starting to emerge: Los Angeles is deploying Philips' SmartPole street lighting with fully built in 4G LTE wireless technology from Ericsson. American Tower, one of the largest providers of mobile network infrastructure services, announced that they have formed an alliance with Philips Lighting to co-develop an aesthetically designed smart pole that delivers wireless network coverage for multiple carriers and energy-efficient LED lighting. Shanghai has installed multifunction street lampposts fitted with touch screens and surveillance cameras that, among other things, will provide free Wi-Fi, area traffic conditions and charging stations for electric vehicles.

As ‘street furniture’ develops more capabilities that create and consume more data, high bandwidth connections must be provided back to the core network. This is achieved most effectively through the use of more robust 60 GHz links. The benefits of the 60 GHz band in urban broadband communications are well understood: high capacity, low interference, excellent spectrum efficiency through reuse, and no licensing required. However, to use the 60 GHz band in this application, we need modular solutions that can be easily integrated and which require little or no ongoing maintenance.

To address this need, Lattice Semiconductor has introduced the MOD65412 60 GHz module set, a member of the GigaRay family of semiconductor devices and modules for 60 GHz infrastructure applications. The module set consists of a baseband module and a beam-steering RF transceiver module designed for easy integration into a variety of equipment, and can substantially improve the aesthetics of smart street equipment. Beam-steering allows electronic alignment of the links after the equipment is installed, which reduces initial installation costs, making subsequent changes to the network simple to achieve and essentially eliminates routine link maintenance.

Wireless broadband infrastructure has an essential role to play in smart city data networks. With Lattice’s GigaRay family of devices and modules, it is easier to deploy than ever before.

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