Philips, Ericsson 4G smartpoles light up, connect LA streets

It's a project two years in the making. Probably even more if you consider R&D and preliminary contracts. February last year, Philips and Ericsson revealed that they were workting together on the streetlight of the future, combining two of the things most delectable to city folk need or love or both: bright night lights and pervasive Internet access. Now that idea will finally be put to the real world test. Philips has just revealed that Los Angeles will be the first every city in the world to deploy its SmartPole street lights with 4G LTE connectivity.

This collaboration between the two electronics giants also combines their strongest products, Philips with lighting and Ericsson with networking equipment. The SmartPole, in particular, will be sporting LED bulbs, long held to be more power efficient yet just as bright, sometimes even brighter than traditional bulbs. For the city of LA, it represents a massive cost savings while still promising the safety brought about by brighter streets.

But while those poles do only light up at night, during the day, and even well into the night, they also serve a second function. With Ericsson's small cell technology, these streetlights can become hubs of connectivity, delivering seamless 4G LTE service to the denizens of LA. These poles are being presented as a way to help spread out the burgeoning load of Internet users in an area, more than what existing telecom infrastructure can support. These small cells can turn almost any structure into a mini cell tower, working with licensed network equipment to expand the reach and strength of Internet connections throughout the city.

The city of Los Angeles seems to have become Philips' favorite testing ground for its technology and products. Earlier this year, the city deployed street lights that could be controlled using Philips' mobile and cloud based streetlight asset management system. Now it will be deploying 100 Philips SmartPoles to test that promise and enlighten, figuratively and literally, the people of LA.