Germany: Vodafone will integrate 5G small base stations in Cologne lampposts

According to Computer Base, under the 5G+ brand, Vodafone has begun a large-scale promotion of 5G independent deployment (SA) in Germany. To scale up, the network operator also relies on so-called Small Cells, such as small cells hidden in streetlights, now used for the first time in Cologne. By 2025, 5G stand-alone deployments and fiber will be common throughout Cologne.

As the name suggests, Small Cells are small mobile radio sites, often hidden in and around existing infrastructure to avoid ruining the cityscape with countless antennas. The concept is by no means new and Vodafone is not the first supplier in Germany to offer such a solution.

The network operator claims to have offered the first standalone 5G Small Cells in Germany. In Cologne's Heumarkt and Domplatte, there are two street lamps with compact 5G antennas placed at a height of about six meters, which transmit signals on the n78 band at 3.5GHz and have a range of up to 400 meters. Vodafone mentions that Small Cells have to speed up to 1 Gbit/s. This means that small cells will be in no way inferior to large cells, at least in terms of peak speeds.

Vodafone is not claiming that Small Cells can replace large sites on rooftops or masts, but rather complement existing wireless cells to create additional capacity or increase range. Small Cells are mainly used in confined spaces with particularly large numbers of people. In the future, networked mobile services, mobile augmented reality applications or future social networks will all benefit.

Fiber-optic lines will connect street lights and fixed networks, while Rheinland Energy will provide electrical support. The project is part of the "Cologne 2025 Gigabit Master Plan", which envisages a district-wide Gigabit network by 2025, with fiber on the ground and 5G in the air (independent deployment). The city of Cologne hopes to facilitate network expansion in the big city by leasing antenna sites as well as fiber and power bundles from network operators or their respective radio tower companies.

According to its own statistics, Vodafone currently has 374 mobile network sites in Cologne, 45 of which are equipped with 5G technology. Of these, 10 have been independently deployed for 5G. Vodafone plans to expand 75 5G networks in Cologne by 2023. In addition, 62 LTE expansion measures are planned.

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