In urban areas, where improved mobile coverage and capacity boosts local connectivity, supports businesses and helps accelerate economic growth, leveraging street level assets is essential. And everybody wins.
Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), who are seeking to alleviate network congestion, need easy access to the widest possible range of assets (CCTV columns, lamp posts, kiosks, advertising hoardings, etc.) at cost effective rates.
Local authorities too want to take advantage of their available street assets to improve digital connectivity for citizens and businesses. While others, including campus and business park owners, and property developers, want to do the same.
The optimum choice, in these high density urban areas, is often to install Small Cells on street furniture.
In the UK, an approach has emerged that achieves these goals – giving MNOs access to street furniture owned by public and private organisations on an open and fair basis, and offering the asset owner a source of incremental revenue.
A partnership approach
Here, an asset owner – for example, a local authority – enters into an agreement with an infrastructure partner, such as Cellnex, to market and manage the street asset on its behalf.
The infrastructure partner then licences the asset to an MNO, deploys equipment and provides a comprehensive management service. The MNO then integrates the new cell into its network to provide an improved mobile experience to customers.
The asset owner continues to use the lamp post, kiosk, CCTV column, etc., exactly as before, as long as it doesn’t install any item that would interfere with the operation of the telecommunications equipment.
The infrastructure partner typically pays a fee to the asset owner relating to each asset licenced to the MNO, as well as a sum to cover the costs of power for the equipment installed at the site.
Having played a key role in driving the development of this growth market, Cellnex has already achieved considerable success in areas where congestion is at its highest. It is already working with three out of four UK MNOs to leverage street furniture to support the deployment of Small Cells through this approach.
See how Cellnex is evolving its partnership models with MNOs and asset owners to deliver an innovative solution in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
Partnering for success – key benefits for asset owners
When entering into an agreement, asset owners should look for an experienced partner, with a track record of marketing and managing multiple assets, a proven set of operational processes and established deployment relationships with MNOs.
This latter point is crucial. Working directly with multiple MNOs and accommodating their varying requirements, can be a time intensive business that requires specialist expertise. Being able to offload the entire management burden onto an experienced partner (whose core business this is) not only eliminates the administration headaches, it can considerably reduce distruption during the equipment deployment stage.
The infrastructure partner is also independent, and operates as a ‘neutral host’ to allow all MNOs to access the assets on equitable terms. Should the infrastructure partner hold multiple agreements to access street furniture, MNOs also benefit from working with a single party – ensuring the consistent application of standard processes across a number of street asset portfolios.
While asset owners are not restricted to working with a single infrastructure partner, doing so has its benefits. It further reduces the resource burden – particularly if, as in the case of Cellnex, they have deployed more Small Cells than anyone else in the UK, and have an established reputation with MNOs for speedy, hassle-free deployment.
An evolving opportunity
We may not have seen exponential Small Cell growth to date. However, the increasing demand for faster data speeds and video streaming, combined with the roll out of 5G and release of higher frequency spectrum, mean that Small Cell deployment is set to rise. In the coming years, Cellnex expects to see the numbers of Small Cells increase in urban areas across the UK, as will the corresponding need for new usable sites and assets.
We are at the forefront of this evolution, exploring the development of new models and working closely with asset owners and MNOs to ensure all partners can maximise this fast emerging opportunity.
Get in touch
If you want to know more about Site Asset Agreements for Small Cells, contact our sales team today at Sales@cellnextelecom.co.uk