Network densification continues to be key for the wireless infrastructure industry as 5G deployments and smart-cities applications require more sites to be located increasingly close to where they are needed, which often means in urban and suburban areas. Often, to streamline deployments, wireless infrastructure is built in municipality rights of way – particularly on street light poles.
Light poles are prime real estate for deploying 4G and 5G nodes thanks to favorable zoning and regulatory rules that recognize the benefits of using existing street furniture for network densification projects. However, the foundations on existing poles often aren’t built to structurally support the added load of cellular nodes, and upgrading those foundations using traditional technologies and methods can create disruptions and downtime as poles are uprooted, new poles are set, and concrete is poured.
This dynamic can create challenges for municipalities, which have obligations around their light poles that make it difficult when they are out of service for extended periods of time. It is important to municipalities to keep their lights on to help prevent crime and keep people safe, minimizing traffic disruptions to accommodate construction work, and avoid rerouting utilities attached to light poles.
“Light pole replacement can cause a municipality’s familiar rhythm to fall out of sync,” said Helicore, a team of telecom industry experts that came together to find a better way to deal with these challenges.
Helicore’s patented Helical Anchor Foundation System minimizes disruptions in the right of way for 4G and 5G small-cell deployments by shortening project timelines from multiple weeks to less than 2 days by taking concrete out of the mix. This means municipalities are able to keep lights on, sidewalks open and disruptions to a minimum. The solution also protects municipalities and infrastructure providers in the future by allowing for plug-and-play replacement of light poles in the event of a knockdown.
The system uses helical anchors built over existing foundations to secure poles, which eliminates the expensive and time-consuming step of removing and re-pouring concrete. The flexible design of the system allows work to occur over existing buried utilities, eliminating disruptions.
“Our very first install took 3.25 hours and was easily implemented,” said a spokesperson with Congruex, a multi-national organization that specializes in broadband network construction and engineering. “The original precast concrete foundation, when pulled, revealed 1-3 inch gas conduit, 1-4 inch unmarked conduit, 1-2 inch CATV conduit and a 1.25 inch irrigation conduit. This of course, prevented the install of a new concrete caisson foundation. Without the Helicore Foundation System, this site would have had to move across the street; potentially 4 months later. After performing the install, we came to the realization that Helicore’s Foundation System should be the preferred first choice with its ability to be quickly installed and maneuver around a variety of unforeseen conflicts.”
Carriers and infrastructure owners are looking for efficiencies everywhere, but post-construction advancements can only do so much, said Helicore. Addressing bottlenecks during the deployment phase can ensure smart-cities applications begin working for communities quicker and the digital divide gets closer to closing.
“When we tell the story about how we broke up the log jam preventing wider proliferation of small cells, Helicore will have its own chapter,” said Lindon Hayes, Founder and CEO, Essentia, Inc. “By focusing on the construction end of the value chain — specifically accelerating network 4G/5G deployment via light pole replacement — Helicore is laying the groundwork for the entire industry to expedite network access and connectivity. Like Helicore, Essentia also shares a passion for developing novel innovation to deploy 4G/5G networks months faster, with greater accuracy, and far more cost effectively than the status quo. When we’re able to work together, the efficiencies we bring to the table expand exponentially.”