Freshwave operates 4.0k small cell nodes and is the only independent provider of small cell infrastructure in the UK. The company’s digital infrastructure is critical for the build-out of 5G in the UK.

Freshwave views 5G as an evolution rather than a revolution. In turn 5G could be a significant step-function to help re-accelerate the UK economy in a post-COVID environment.

Network Sharing Agreements Aid Collaboration

The UK’s four mobile network operators (MNOs) and Government developed the Shared Rural Network agreement. This demonstrates what can be achieved when working together. The agreement will bring 4G coverage to 95% of the UK landmass by the end of 2025.

With the increase in digital infrastructure needed to roll-out the 5G network, further collaboration will be forthcoming. Specifically, for network requirements and environmental sustainability purposes.

Collaboration can take the form of sharing more network infrastructure. This includes towers and small cells and is already happening in the UK with:

  • Mobile Broadband Network Limited (MBNL): a joint venture between Three UK (owned by CK Hutchison) and EE (owned by BT Group)
  • Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Limited (CTIL): a joint venture between O2 UK (owned by Telefónica) and Vodafone

The Barrier Busting Taskforce, which the government set-up to bring together industry, Local Authorities, and landowners is another example of collaboration in the UK. The taskforce brings parties together to identify and remove the barriers to digital infrastructure deployment.

5G Deployments with Innovation and Experience

To benefit the most from 5G technology, innovative investment approaches, such as building dark fiber, are needed, in order to support the 5G network.

Mobile network operators (MNOs) in the UK are expected to complete most of their tower upgrades by 2025. 5G requires more base stations due to its spectrum characteristics. Thus, small cells will be a crucial component of the network topology as well.

Freshwave is currently working with city councils, such as Croydon Council, to install 4G small cells. These small cells will also be ready for 5G upgrades throughout the UK by Freshwave. Freshwave is deploying small cells in council assets such as streetlights. Indeed, the MNOs will be able to access these small cells when 5G upgrades are needed for the area.

Freshwave deploys digital infrastructure on assets such as street furniture. Therefore, residents of the area can benefit from the enhanced connectivity. At the same time, without having to see significant additional infrastructure clutter up their neighborhoods.

Likewise, to bring 5G networks indoors, Freshwave will deploy small cells and DAS systems inside buildings. This is because walls and environmentally friendly building materials block the signals of 5G.

Freshwave is working on new ways to blend all available technologies. From fiber to small cells, all of which will help improve the roll-out of 5G.

Freshwave to Lead the 5G Future of the UK

Digital connectivity is considered essential, particularly following the impact of COVID-19 on working patterns. Networks in the UK proved themselves to be resilient as the demands on them increased dramatically during COVID-19 lockdowns, enabling users to be flexible in the way they were working.

By taking a collaborative approach to building the network, Freshwave will ensure robust 4G and 5G network will continue to benefit the UK for years to come.

Adam Simmons covers Towers for Dgtl Infra, including American Tower (NYSE: AMT), Crown Castle (NYSE: CCI), SBA Communications (NASDAQ: SBAC), Cellnex Telecom (BME: CLNX), Vantage Towers (ETR: VTWR), IHS Holding (NYSE: IHS), and many more. Within Towers, Adam focuses on the sub-sectors of ground-based cell towers, rooftop sites, broadcast / radio towers, and 5G. Adam has over 7 years of experience in research and writing for Towers.


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