Ericsson tests Zero Site urban mobile network in Spain

cell tower antennas
Pictured: not an Ericsson Zero Site.

Ericsson said it has begun its first trials of its Zero Site solution in Spain, with an installation in the city of Santander.

Zero Site is a technical solution developed by Ericsson and Philips to address one the biggest issues facing cities globally: how to increase network bandwidth, connectivity and coverage in densely populated areas where there is little opportunity to build out additional infrastructure. By 2050, 70% of the world's population will live in cities, putting intense pressure on communications infrastructure in such dense urban environments.

The Zero Site approach combines small cells with streetlights to have minimal visual impact while supporting mass deployment of new infrastructure and bandwidth. It allows for multiple site configurations with all equipment encapsulated inside the pole and underground. The technology supports 2G, 4G and Wi-Fi.

"Our cities are entering a new phase of technology and social transformation brought about by the expansion of cloud services, mobile devices, sensors and big data," said José Antonio López, head of Ericsson in Iberia. "Today, there are 100 times more streetlamps in the world than there are telecom sites. Streetlamp poles are everywhere in cities, but many of them need updating. Our Zero Site solution offers city officials an innovative way to modernise lighting infrastructure and bring the best mobile broadband experience to their citizens."

Ericsson said the technology can be used to do many different things beyond expanding the local network. Potential functions including car-charging stations, parking meters, advertising boards, environmental sensors, and surveillance. When combined with new LED street light technology, the wide deployment of the poles is also expected to provide dramatic savings on energy expenditures for street lights. Public lighting can contribute as much as half of a city's electricity bill. Ericsson claims that its technology will provide savings in a city's lighting costs of between 50 per cent and 80 per cent.

Iñigo de la Serna, the Mayor of Santander, said he was delighted that the city has become a global testing hub for the technology. "Santander is proud to participate in these important developments," he said, "especially when it comes to the Internet of Things, which greatly contributes to our consolidation as a smart city."

For more:
- see this Ericsson release

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