A new approach to towers, growth of neutral hosts, and an expansion of private networks. Those are three strong trends to consider in telecom infrastructure for 2022. A strong recovery post-pandemic has accelerated the transition of society moving to digital platforms.
As streaming, working from home and Zoom meetings continue to be the new normal, an urban structural transformation also emerges, spreading out housing and work to smaller cities, peripheral suburbs, and rural areas in due course.
Post-covid, trillions of dollars are now being invested in connecting this new society through digital infrastructure. This in turn has created a strong pressure for change in the telecom infrastructure, accelerating the 5G expansion.
Here are three trends to keep an eye on for 2022.
New approach to towers is expected
In terms of wireless network planning, the low hanging fruit in 2021 was to upgrade the standard macro towers to 5G. This year the coverage needs to be densified at a faster pace, at the same time operators must consider the regulations around tower deployment.
The tri-sector antennas can be deployed on public rights of ways and take advantage of reduced planning restrictions. It also allows two operators to co-locate in one place while still having their own antenna concealed within the slimline canister.
Big investments are currently being made in North America and Europe to ensure rural communities are connected. Tri-sector antennas can be a low cost and fast way to install on various buildings bringing mobile coverage to communities for the first time.
Neutral Hosts to continue in 2022
Wireless operators are moving from sharing sites on their own infrastructure to sharing that same infrastructure through a neutral host that can cover not-spots. This helps people stay connected in extremely remote places like the subway and inside buildings.
The neutral host-setup solves the economic problem in times of a rise in demand of connectivity, by simply making it commercially viable since it works stand-alone often in partnership with landlords or transport providers.
By working with neutral hosts everyone can stay connected while commuting underground, working in bunkers or remote, regardless of which wireless operator they are using.
Companies like Cellnex, Crown Castle, Freshwave, WIG and more are all increasing their footprint, by building out the sites to have at least two operators sharing the costs.
This approach also helps the capital expenditure (CapEx) budgets for the wireless operators who have already invested heavily in acquiring the spectrum licenses.
Private Networks importance to increase
The importance of private networks will increase in 2022. Digital transformation, internet of things (IoT) and smart factories all require 5G capabilities for critical infrastructure, industrial operations, and mission-critical wireless communication requirements in public safety.
Translated into the consumer field this includes innovations such as AGV’s (automatic guided vehicles), AR (augmented reality), collaborative mobile robots, self-driving vehicles and more.
4G has not been able to support this, and as regulators have opened spectrum for enterprise private 5G, utilities are now looking at the lower frequency bands for their private networks.
As more spectrums are being allocated to enterprises, the stalled process can now restart and further fuel the growth in the telecom sector in 2022.