When selecting a street lighting network, smart cities should weigh affordability with current and future needs when selecting a network type. Many options exist that span narrowband, mediumband and broadband spectrums, and making the right choice is important for municipalities long term plans to become a smart city. Street lighting has proven itself as the quickest and most cost-effective way for a community to dynamically change when pairing intelligent connectivity with an LED conversion.
Street Lighting Network Types: Affordability Versus Applicability
The three network type ranges are narrowband, mediumband, and broadband. Narrowband, the most affordable range, covers the LPWAN spectrum including Sigfox, LoRA, and NB-IoT, and LTE-Cat-M1. This spectrum has limitations in terms of bandwidth, latency, and applications, but provides a low-cost entry to become a more intelligent city.
Street lighting as a smart city platform begins with the mediumband spectrum which includes PLC, RF Mesh, and LTE-Cat-1. This range offers the best combination of affordability and application capability. When you upgrade your street lighting with mediumband networks, a city can begin to apply this network to applications that include smart parking, digital signage, and smart waste management, among others.
The need to go broadband begins with higher bandwidth applications such as public WiFi, and critical applications including traffic light controls and high definition 4k IP camera networks. The broadband spectrum includes 3G/4G/5G cellular, WiFi, and point-to-multipoint technologies. This spectrum has a higher cost initially and for the additional bandwidth capabilities but also can offer a city the full range of application offerings for the short- and long-term needs. Making the right choice is an important decision for municipalities, and they should consider street lighting as their path to becoming a smart city.