Ubicquia’s latest module is the Ubimetro, which is a small cell that leverages Qualcomm’s FSM-based architecture to support technologies like LAA and V-RAN that are expected to be the foundation of ultra-dense 5G networks, according to a company press release. In addition, the Ubimetro lets the network operator utilize a wide variety ofoptions: Ethernet, power-line communications (PLC), fiber or wireless mesh.
“Our whole goal is that, when you plug into the top of the streetlight, we want to be able to give people flexibility as to how they’re going to connect to the network,” Aaron said.
“What’s nice about what we do is that you may start with the wireless and—based on traffic—you can justify saying, ‘Now, we need to go fiber,’ whereas—not understanding the architecture yet and the requirements—having to run the fiber and dig up the streets is a tough decision [when deploying the network initially]. We give them the ability to plug-and-play easily and quickly launch in the wireless. And then, where they want to have more backhaul, they can upgrade to anything from Ethernet, fiber or PLC.”
Because they are plugged into the top of a streetlight, Ubicquia’s solutions have access to persistent power, and the weather-proof casing is IP-66 and IP-67 rated, Aaron said. The plug-and-play nature of the solutions make networks easy to deploy. In addition, the small form factor means Ubicquia’s solution is not an eyesore, so there should be less resistance to deployment from the planning commission or other local regulatory body, Aaron said.
“When our unit is on top of a streetlight, you can’t even see it from underneath the streetlight,” he said. “The beautiful thing about this is that you’re not making the streetlight or the pole unattractive by putting boxes on it andhanging all over it.”
The combination about these characteristics greatly enhances the ability for quicker deployments of the ultra-dense cell-site network configurations needed to make the 5G-driven vision for the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities a reality, Aaron said.
“Normally, the mobile operator tries to get attachment rights, so they can get access to the pole. Then, they have to get power. Then, they have to get backhaul,” Aaron said. “What this really allows for—on the business side—a flexible model, whether the city want to provide the access for the mobile operator, or the city could provide it as a service to the mobile operator.”
For the wireless carrier, the streetlight-based approach used by Ubicquia typically means that there are enough access points available to serve the needs of all wireless providers in a manner that they like, Aaron said.
“The important thing about this product is that it is dedicated host, because this is really what the mobile operators want,” Aaron said. “The tower companies do neutral host, where they have one piece of equipment, and they share it across Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. [With Ubimetro,] let’s say you have an intersection with four streetlights. You could have one as AT&T, one as Sprint, one as T-Mobile, and one as Verizon.
“The great thing about this is that operators want to manage their own network—Sprint has their deal with Hulu, T-Mobile has their deal with NetFlix, and AT&T has DirecTV Now. Everybody wants to start building and managing their own network, and that is what we provide the ability to do. Because streetlights are so prevalent, it’s very easy to architect a solution for AT&T to use every fifth pole or every 10th pole. And there’s plenty of poles, so AT&T can own their own network, Verizon can own their own network, and the same goes for T-Mobile, Sprint, etc.”
With its new relationship with AT&T—the nationwide contractor for’s nationwide public-safety broadband network—Ubicquia is having discussions with the carrier about integrating a chipset that allows operations on the 700 MHz Band 14 spectrum licensed to FirstNet, Aaron said.
“We think there are a lot of interesting opportunities within what AT&T and [Ubicquia are] doing together in smart cities, but also how we could play a bigger role as FirstNet infrastructure starts building out,” he said.