Arqiva has gained exclusive access to 16,000 lampposts in the London borough of Waltham Forest, allowing them to deploy small cell technology that will help deliver 5G.

The UK communications infrastructure firm is intending to improve telecommunications infrastructure in the area through the technology. This will help mobile network operators (MNOs) expand mobile coverage and capacity, as well as eventually helping deliver 5G.

Small cell units can be placed on ‘street furniture’ – objects like lampposts and bollards, or onto the sides of buildings. This is particularly useful in areas where there is poor coverage or where demand is increased, such as shopping centres.

This is not the first concession of this kind that Arqiva has entered into – Waltham Forest being the 14th borough in London that has inked a deal with the firm. Other areas covered include Hammersmith and Fulham, Barnet and Wandsworth. Outside of London, it also has similar contracts in major conurbations such as Manchester, Southampton and Medway.

Alongside the small cell deployment project, Arqiva will install Wifi access points, again mounted on lampposts, in town centres around the Waltham Forest borough, giving free public access to WiFi.

Arqiva managing director of telecoms, Nicolas Ott, said: “As data and voice usage increases exponentially, it is fast becoming essential for mobile network operators to deliver sufficient outdoor connectivity for their customers in dense urban areas.

“Arqiva’s portfolio of communications sites means we are uniquely able to help the MNOs deliver the required coverage and capacity, whether it is towers and rooftops for macro sites or street furniture for small cells.”

4G is currently heavily reliant on street furniture such as lampposts, particularly in heavily populated areas, and according to Ott it will continue to play a role as 5G develops.

“We can see the arrival of 5G connectivity on the horizon and density of infrastructure is crucial to its delivery. This is particularly true for the future delivery of 5G Fixed Wireless Access broadband to homes,” Ott said.

Local council cabinet member Cllr Liaquat Ali MBE also praised the move. “I’m really pleased to welcome Arqiva to Waltham Forest as we help our residents move toward a digital future.

“Installing cell units into street furniture is an innovative and forward-thinking idea that shows we in Waltham Forest are committed to improving our digital offer for all to enjoy.”