Companies are getting creative when it comes to deploying 5G small cells in dense urban areas. Alpha Wireless, a company that manufactures antennas, has partnered with Bigbelly, a company that does public waste management.

Yes, you read that correctly. Bigbelly does public trash cans, compost bins and recycling management.

The two companies are offering a turnkey 5G cell site with Alpha providing the antenna, mast, and connectors and Bigbelly providing the enclosure and waste management equipment.

Dublin, Ireland

The companies are trialling their turnkey offering in Dublin, Ireland, at two sites.

“The Dublin City Council and the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) worked in collaboration with local network operators and equipment suppliers on a proof of concept for densifying the city’s 5G networks, while balancing the needs of the city to improve services,” said Fergal Lawlor, CEO of Alpha Wireless, in an email to Fierce.

The proof of concept includes waste and recycling, along with 5G equipment from Alpha Wireless. The sites were deployed by Cellnex Telecom and are connected to the Three Ireland network.

“The city of Dublin was very involved in the planning and deployment of this proof of concept trial as part of the overall TIP Connected City Infrastructure project,” said Lawlor.

The city of Dublin is also working with TIP to trial its open-source Wi-Fi software for a municipal Wi-Fi network.

Weird combination?

Combining telecom network equipment with trash cans and recycling bins may sound a bit ridiculous to telecom readers. But in the world of urban planning, it’s important.

In the U.S. ever since the FCC implemented rules in 2018 making it easier for wireless companies to deploy small cells, there have been lawsuits and general gnashing-of-teeth in cities around the country about the unsightliness of the equipment.

“Given the saturation of traditional cell sites in many cities and suburbs worldwide, network operators need to explore a new approach to RAN deployments before they can fully realize the promised 5G customer experience of higher speeds and lower latency,” said analyst Monica Paolini, principal of Senza Fili, in a statement.

“With an integrated, multi-purpose enclosure, operators and neutral hosts can quickly and discreetly deploy radio access network (RAN) equipment in public spaces,” stated the companies.

The turnkey site enclosure kit can be configured with various Alpha Wireless antenna options, such as ultra-compact antennas for urban small cells or shared tri-sector antennas for macrocell deployments, supporting up to three operators in one neutral host site. And then, of course, the enclosure can include the waste management equipment.

Alpha Wireless says this turnkey 5G cell site solution has also been commercially deployed by an unnamed operator in North America.

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