August 20, 2014
South Africa’s solution to lousy mobile signal: Turn streetlights into cell towers
Johannesburg is South Africa’s largest city. It is also one of the most crowded and densely populated. As a result, mobile phone signal often suffers from too many people trying to connect to one cell tower. The dense built-up environment doesn’t do phone reception any favors either. [via Quartz]/p>
MTN, one of Africa’s largest mobile operators, has an ingenious solution: The company is installing cell towers on streetlights in the crowded west and north and of the city.
The installation of a new cell-enabled streetlight takes about 11 hours, making it a much faster process than building a traditional mobile base station. However, the lamppost-towers also have a much smaller operating radius of 400 to 600 meters (1,300-2000 feet). Traditional towers can, in theory, extend their range over 30 kilometers (18 miles), but in practice tend to be located only a couple of kilometers apart in urban areas.
The smaller footprint of MTN’s streetlight means fewer people will be using the same tower, which should allow for fewer dropped calls and faster data connection.
Image and related article from BusinessTech.
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