TRAI releases recommendations on “Use of Street Furniture for Small Cells and Aerial Fibre deployment”

Source: The post is based on the articleTRAI releases recommendations on Use of Street Furniture for Small Cells and Aerial Fibre deploymentpublished in PIB on 30th November 2022.

What is the News?

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI) has released its recommendations on “Use of Street Furniture for Small Cells and Aerial Fibre deployment”. 

What are Small Cells?

Small cells are low-powered radio access nodes or base stations (BS) operating in licensed or unlicensed spectrums that have a coverage range from a few meters up to a few hundred meters.

Why should small cells be used for 5G deployment?

The use of higher frequency bands for 5G rollout will have shorter coverage as signals in these bands cannot travel through buildings or obstacles. Therefore, the macro cells will be required to be complemented with the extensive deployment of small cells so as to support all kinds of uses and applications, at all locations. 

What are the advantages of using small cells?

Small cells provide coverage only for a very short distance and therefore they are installed in a dense or hyper-dense manner, which can be even more than 200 per square kilometre for good network coverage for high-capacity broadband.

Due to their lower level of radiation, small cells require less stringent security and installation practices, so it is easy to install and operate.

The small cells can also be mounted on any existing street furniture like poles, bus stands, traffic lights, buildings, etc. This can obviate the need for erecting thousands of new towers resulting in the economical and fast deployment of small cells.

What are the issues in the deployment of small cells on street furniture?

The deployment of small cells and aerial fiber on street furniture can face many issues like identifying the suitable street furniture based on the availability of backhaul, power, capabilities of street furniture for mounting suitable equipment, scalability and concerns related to local approval and safety. 

To address these issues, TRAI has issued several recommendations which are: 

– Government should do away with the requirement of obtaining a permit for the installation of small telecom gear.

– The Department of Telecom(DoT) should exempt Low Power Base Transceiver Stations (LPBTS) with effective radiation power of less than 600 watts from seeking clearance under mobile tower rollout rules as well.

– DoT should make necessary provisions in the GatiShakti Sanchar Portal to incorporate bulk application filing and processing for all categories of small cells. 

– Power distribution companies (discoms) should make provisions to provide connections for telecom sites to service providers on priority basis and they should charge telecom operators on the basis of the running load and not on the sanctioned load.

– Set up a broadband steering committee, state broadband committee and district or municipal monitoring committee to evaluate and assess the progress of small cell roll-out.

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