iGR study finds small cell power requirements vary widely

There is a surprising lack of standards for powering small cells, according to a new study by iGR that looks at how small cells are powered and what types of backup power solutions are available for them.

There are "no norms or averages for powering small cells," said iGR's Iain Gillott in an interview with FierceInstaller. Requirements vary widely by carrier and by municipality and power sources vary by what is available at the location of the small cell. In many cases, there are options built into a small cell.

Small cell installers are accustomed to backhaul costs influencing their ability to install and operate a small cell but Gillott said that power requirements play a key role in the cost of a small cell solutions as well.

Another issue is the question of backup power solutions for small cells. Gillott pointed out that even if a small cell is not functioning, macro cells still provide general coverage in a given area, making backup solutions less crucial. However, backup power is still desirable.

But providing backup power for small cells is complicated because small cells are often located on utility poles, making them difficult to access. Additionally, it's not always aesthetically appealing to have batteries located near small cells because it's "the equivalent of four car batteries" on the pole, Gillott said. Subtler and less obvious solutions are necessary, he added.

Gillott also said that some municipalities allow small cell installers to use the power solution for streetlights, while other municipalities do not allow this.

Power over Ethernet (PoE) is a cost-effective way of powering indoor small cells, Gillott said. However, he added that PoE is very limited in terms of wattage. Increasingly, PoE is an option for indoor deployments, he said.

For more:
- see this release

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