Smart poles are multi-functional aggregation points for smart urban infrastructure, built on top of smart streetlights and connected utility poles. According to global technology intelligence firm ABI Research, by 2030, the installed base of smart poles will exceed 10.8 million globally with system revenues amounting to US$60 billion.

"The relevance of smart poles for smart cities is huge. They offer an efficient, scalable and modular framework for deploying the whole spectrum of smart urban infrastructure, ranging from 5G small cells and Wi-Fi hotspots to surveillance and traffic cameras, signage and information displays, air quality and flood monitoring solutions, and charging points for two and four-wheel vehicles, drones, and handsets including renewable energy generation," said Dominique Bonte, vice president of end markets and verticals at ABI Research. "However, the main driver behind smart pole deployments is the need for cellular network densification in the form of 5G and future 6G small cells and the use of mmWave radio spectrum. As such, the telco ecosystem is expected to at least partially fund the additional smart cities functionality embedded in smart poles."

Typical barriers slowing down smart pole adoption include issues related to co-ownership and management (design, maintenance, backhaul cost sharing), conflicting priorities and agendas, sensor data privacy concerns, and the lack of awareness of city governments about the many benefits offered by smart poles in terms of cost savings, deployment time, scaling opportunities and future-proof modularity. Consequently, deployments are only expected to gather momentum towards the end of this decade.

Key vendors in the smart pole ecosystem include Ubicquia, Verizon, Huawei, Signify, Nokia/LuxTurrim5G, and ELKO EP, next to a range of smart streetlight suppliers venturing into smart pole technologies. Main initiatives include the EU's Humble Lamppost Project and deployments by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Los Angeles, Munich and Leuven. Additionally, cities in China (Shenzhen, Hangzhou) and India (Bhopal, New Delhi and Indore) have implemented smart pole projects.

These findings are from ABI Research's Smart Poles and Streetlight Platforms report. This report is part of the company's Smart Urban Infrastructure research service, which includes research, data and analyst insights.