The new generation of antenna masts not only have antennas, but also cameras for monitoring, charging facilities for electric bicycles and digital advertising columns. This is not just a thing of the future. The columns have already been in use in China for two years and were designed and supplied by the Italian company Calzavara.
This week, the company opened up a permanent exhibition space, which it calls a laboratory, in northern Italy where the various types of smart towers will be introduced to interested European parties. The Polish are already convinced. The first tower was installed in Warsaw on behalf of T-Mobile.
“The smart is the future,” says Miguel Beccari, marketing manager of Calzavara. “The introduction of 5G ushers in a technical revolution. Higher frequencies and lower transmission rates mean more antennas.” The antennas in question are 12 meters high, smaller than we are used to today, and -depending on population density- are placed about every 200 to 300 meters. The antenna density means that the towers can become multifunctional.
Smart towers could become hubs for home delivery drones
“Traditional masts just contain antennas and are passive, so to speak. The new generation of masts are active, intelligent and can provide all kinds of digital services, including technology that we haven’t even heard of yet.” There is also the idea of smart towers that become, for instance, hubs for drones that do home deliveries. Calzavara also has an even smaller range of masts, which can also be made smart as light masts along public roads (9 meters in height).
The new model of ‘active’ antenna, which Calzavara is marketing under the name Dicecell, also has ramifications for how the ‘mast market’ is structured. Currently, specialized companies, tower operators, rent the masts to one or a few telecommunication companies. The sole function of the masts is that they are part of a telecommunications network.
The new generation of masts can also be operated by other users. “You can imagine a supermarket that has its own parking lot having a mast installed there. It can monitor the premises, but also provide other services, such as, of course, telecommunications,” says Beccari.
Pine Tree tower
Calzavara has been operating in the world of transmission and telecommunication towers for 50 years. At the end of the twentieth century, the company gained a lot of attention for wrapping masts, and even transforming them into a ‘pine tree’. The company also commissions designers to design masts.
Read about how other companies are also getting into ‘active’ antennas here.