As you drive through Anytown, USA you may notice the number of different streetlights that illuminate the roads that you are traveling. Some are tall to cover large areas while others may be more decorative and located in downtown areas to give the town a unique character. Whatever they look like, municipalities large and small are starting to realize the true value of these structures.

In the era of 5G, cellular and neutral host providers are interested in expanding their radio networks to provide better coverage in densely populated areas for better data performance. As a result, municipalities, utilities, and other private companies that operate streetlights have been making their structures “smart” by incorporating 5G/LTE radios and fiber for connectivity. This has provided an important revenue stream to support the operation of these streetlights; however, that’s not the only value they have.

Streetlights expand to more city services

Imagine a municipality being inundated with requests from residents every day to fix potholes, address illegal parking, tow cars blocking driveways, lack of heat in apartments, dangerous intersections, water backups, and more. Addressing these issues not only cost money and personnel, but also time. For instance, some cities can take a year or more to survey their roads to fix potholes or by the time you call to tow someone’s car that is blocking your driveway, you’re probably already late for an important meeting.

The good news is that Internet of Things (IoT) technology allows governments to improve connections with residents by establishing new and better services. Digitalization, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) are changing how people live by connecting machines, vehicles, infrastructure, and buildings rather than just users. For instance, LIDR (light detection and ranging) technology can be used for 3D recording of crime scenes, forensic examination, and measuring pollution levels, to name a few. LIDR is also being used to enable autonomous vehicles and providing unique uses to avoid fatalities on the road.

Smart pole smart infrastructure for Fiber Connect 2024
Example of a Smart Pole by Aero Wireless Group in a suburban neighborhood.

Today, smart poles or smart infrastructure are retrofitted to include Cisco’s IoT Industrial Networking to provide scalable municipal-wide secure connectivity for these IoT device that are mounted on the poles. These smart pole are also providing Cisco’s Industrial Wireless for connectivity to devices that are not connected physically like electrical, water, and parking meters. They are also being leveraged in municipalities like the City of Ft. Worth, TX for Internet access to residents that lacked access. The smart poles can also be networked together wirelessly, leveraging Cisco’s Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul to provide fiber-like quality and performance where physical fiber may not be available and cost prohibitive.

Regardless of their size, municipalities can leverage streetlight and fiber as strategic assets that can provide their residents improved cellular coverage, utilize fiber for broadband access, and expand government services efficiently by leveraging the power of IoT and AI/ML to solve critical issues. Today, sensors like those with LIDR technology can alert residents of poor air quality, provide early warning system to avoid traffic collision, provide information on poor road conditions, and so many other solutions to make quality of life better for their residents.

Join us at FiberConnect24

Fiber Connect Smart Infrastructure Cisco

Cisco is a proud member of Fiber Broadband Association. We will be speaking at the FiberConnect annual conference in Nashville, July 28-31, 2024.  My colleagues at Cisco and I will be speaking at the following sessions and invite you to attend:

Monday, July 29, 2024

  • Build America Buy America: Delivering a Slice of the American Pie
    12:30 pm CST – Robin Olds, Cisco
  • Out in the Middle: Urban, Suburban, and Rural Middle Mile
    1:30 pm CST – Albert Garcia, Cisco
  • Expo Theater: Rethinking Broadband Access Networks
    3:00 pm CST – Bradley Riapolov, Cisco

Tuesday, July 30, 2024

  • Build 201: Creating Demand and Mitigating Risk in New Markets
    1:30 pm CST – Abel Ramirez, Cisco
  • Broadband Policy Symposium
    3:00 pm CST – Miranda Lutz, Cisco

We also encourage you to follow these hashtags during the event: #FiberBroadband #FBA #FiberConnect24






Albert Garcia

Public Sector Broadband Lead

US Public Sector