Home5GDense Air strikes deal to build ‘neutral host’ 5G smart-city network in Portugal

Dense Air strikes deal to build ‘neutral host’ 5G smart-city network in Portugal

Dense Air, a subsidiary of network infrastructure vendor Airspan, has signed a deal with the city of Cascais in Portugal, a municipality in the Lisbon district, to build a 5G smart-city test network that makes use of its local 3.6GHz spectrum holding, to support autonomous vehicles, industrial IoT and immersive education.

Dense Air will build a shared ‘neutral host’ 4G and 5G mobile network in the city, using its licensed holding in 3.6GHz (Band 42/43) radio spectrum. Its localised network in the city will bring additional capacity in certain areas of the city. The idea is for the city to establish a ‘proof of concept’ for 5G densification as a platform to develop smart city services. 

Dense Air controls its own mid-band spectrum in Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, New Zealand and Australia. The company provides neutral host network services “designed to improve coverage and capacity in locations that are technically difficult or commercially uneconomic to support,” according to its website.

The new Portuguese deployment will include a 5G macro cell at a “prominent centrally located [government] building” in the city, alongside “strategically placed” small cells to bolster coverage and capacity. 

The Nova University in Carcavelos will also host 5G test and validation at its digital innovation hub. Test demos will be shown as part of the university’s Techfest, and allow students and researchers a view of 5G to “stimulate and test” new business applications.

Cascais is the first city in Portugal to announce plans to utilise Dense Air’s spectrum holding for 5G densification and smart city services. The deal, in the form of a memorandum of understanding (MoU), follows “a period of study and workshops” between Dense Air and the city’s municipal council, which ended in May. 

Tony Boyle, general manager at Dense Air Portugal, said: “The move positions Cascais at the forefront of the next generation 5G industry and will provide the opportunity for the Câmara and other interested parties to test a number of the latest technological advances for uses such as autonomous vehicles, industrial IoT and immersive education.”

He added: “This will benefit the council and its very ambitious plans to make Cascais a fully connected community. It will in turn show how businesses can be more efficient and give consumers access to more and better information faster than ever before.”

Miguel Pinto Luz, deputy mayor for Cascais, commented: “We are really leading this process… We can be the first to offer our residents and visitors this service, which will greatly improve the lives of each of us.”

Dense Air said it has been planning the rollout for 12 months as part of its plans to establish “this neutral host small cell technology across Portugal”. It said it wants to complement national operators’ 4G and 5G services with network densification using its own spectrum. 

Dense Air recently worked with the city council in Dublin, Ireland, to deploy a neutral host small cell network in the city’s docklands area. The project is designed to hasten network densification in support of in-building connectivity, IoT implementations, wireless backhaul and boosting carrier services.

Paul Coffey, the company’s head of strategy, told 5G World in London recently the Dublin project showed the key role of gaining buy in from city leaders. “It’s about making them an active participant, an active stakeholder in that deployment. In today’s world and previously, they’d been very much a passive player and the mobile operators deploy as they see fit. If we can turn that model around…it facilitates a much richer model for everybody, MNOs included,” he said.

His comments came during a panel discussion on 5G use cases, hosted by RCR Wireless; video of that session is available here.

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