AGL Media: Collaboration Speeds Denver Small Cell Deployment

Comptek Technologies is providing Xcel Energy with the first in a series of dual-purpose street light and small cell poles that the company calls CityPoles. The company has engineered the poles to accept 4G and 5G small cell technology. So far, installers have placed 300 small cells in Denver. The CityPole forms the centerpiece of a collaboration among the utility, wireless carriers and the municipal government.

The Denver deployment represents an interesting interplay among policymakers, the city, the telecom industry and the infrastructure providers, according to Mike Hoganson, COO of Comptek Technologies. “The utilities don’t necessarily see themselves as active participants in the telecom environment,” he told AGL eDigest. “What happened in Denver is they got very active.”

Two years ago, Comptek began helping the unified city and county of Denver government put together its small cell standards, because government representatives were concerned that there would be an influx of standalone poles used for small cells that would add to the existing vertical infrastructure such as streetlights.

The concern inspired some communication and work between the infrastructure providers and Excel Energy as the largest street light owner in Denver, Hoganson said. “What resulted was a standard utility pole that is uniquely configured to accept any one’s small cell equipment,” he said.

The city’s specialists developed one standard that deals with aesthetics, and the utility created a technical standard that specifies the thickness of the walls of the poles.

“The City and County of Denver recognized that deploying on Excel infrastructure was the easiest way to minimize the number of new poles in the right of way,” Hoganson said. “It takes a village. We were able to work effectively with the City/County and the utility and then, ultimately, with the wireless carriers.”

The Xcel series of CityPole smart poles carries a single meter with separate RF and power bays and disconnect switches. Six hand holes provide access for cable management, and low-profile D-rings provide a mounting option to attach a remote radio unit or city banner flag.

The poles feature multiple lighting possibilities and support more than 1,000 pounds with an effective projected area of 40 square feet. It is designed for multitenant equipment and future IoT technologies.

“It is uniquely configured to accept anyone’s small cell equipment,” Hoganson said. “These poles are technology hotels; Excel Energy is the hotel owner; and we build the hotels so they can have any type of technology on board – more than 150 different combinations.”

Excel has developed a strategy that focuses on rapid deployment. The carriers themselves work directly with Excel on getting their sites permits and deploying them. As a result, Hoganson said, Excel expects to deploy more concealed poles in this market than all the carriers combined by the end of the year. – Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor