Early evaluation of mounting assets beneficial for city-wide deployments
When deploying municipal wireless networks, municipalities need access to sufficient mounting assets, such as street light poles, traffic light poles and building rooftops, for installing mesh nodes and wireless backhaul equipment. The availability and location of these mounting assets has significant impact on signal coverage and performance of the network.
An issue is that municipalities generally have rights to only a limited number of building rooftops, and some of the buildings may not be located in optimum areas from a radio propagation perspective. In addition, a municipality may not be able to utilize street light poles in specific areas, sometimes due to poor physical condition of the poles or resistance of the public based on aesthetics. For instance, light poles may be a decorative type, and residents of a neighborhood may balk at the idea of mounting mesh nodes or backhaul equipment on the poles. As a result, system integrators must often explore mounting asset alternatives, which may require the installation of additional poles or towers or utilize unconventional radio technologies. Iíve seen more than one case where the solution provider was in the middle of installing the network and found that mounting assets were not sufficient, causing delays of months while everyone scrambled to find alternative solutions. Believe me; you donít want to go through that.
In order to avoid delays or even worse end up with an operational system with insufficient signal coverage and performance due to limited mounting assets, municipalities should conduct a pre-installation assessment that thoroughly identifies the location, condition, and availability of all potential mounting assets. City maps identifying street light and traffic light poles are a good place to start. Be certain to check the actual condition and availability of the poles, however. Also, perform RF signal analysis atop applicable building rooftops to understand if existing radio-based systems may preclude the use of a particular rooftop.
Ideally, municipalities should assess potential mounting assets prior to releasing the RFP. This enables integrators to more accurately bid on the project and avoid delays later on during the project. It provides critical time necessary for the municipality (and possibly the integrators bidding on the solution) to find solutions to limited mounting assets. Just donít wait until after installation is underway!