Where history and technology go hand in hand

Erice is one of the many beautiful intact villages in the island of Sicily, Italy. It was an ancient Phoenician and Greek city, and is situated at an altitude of 751 m, on a mountain crowned by a triangular-shaped plateau with a terrace overlooking the sea. Its historic centre is a labyrinth of cobbled streets and of passages so narrow as to allow the crossing of only one person.

The municipal administration of Erice has long been committed to winning the great challenge of overcoming any outstanding issues regarding the territorial digital divide. On the other hand, the administration’s philosophy is to combine the need for modernity and respect for the historical heritage, in order to render a service not only to their inhabitants but also to tourists, always very numerous, and especially in the summer. In these periods of the year, the historic centre of Erice is therefore subject to the influx of many tourists who, when visiting this wonderful medieval town, expect full network coverage that supports the use of their smartphones without bandwidth shortages. Its position on top of a mountain reduces, if not eliminates, the signal coming from the macro sites of the operators reaching the internal streets of the centre.

To achieve a solution in accordance with Erice’s needs, Cellnex has installed an Outdoor Distributed Antenna System (DAS), which allows to increase the network capacity and coverage in places where there is a high influx of people who require a huge use of traffic at the same time. The Outdoor DAS is implemented when the signal levels, coming from the macro sites, arrive very low inside city squares and streets and, since there are massive requests for the use of the cell phone network, it is necessary to increase the capacity of the system, to allow everyone having guaranteed connectivity.

When it comes to an outdoor DAS system, the two key elements of the project are the technical room and the fibre network. These two aspects are not trivial, since this is not an indoor context in which these two elements are easily identifiable and/or achievable. The technical room must be connected to an available fibre network and have to be specially placed in order to reach all the points of the Outdoor DAS deployed to cover a specific area.

In the case of Erice, Cellnex immediately has created an optical infrastructure within the 3 km of historic centre, in order to connect the active equipment distributed in the medieval town and to prepare the technical room. Although the historic centre of Erice covers a big area, it is still possible to achieve network coverage by gathering all the optical infrastructure flow into a single Technical Room managed by Cellnex, where the signals of the operators are collected and distributed within the Outdoor DAS.

In order to combine the need for modernity and respect for the historical heritage, the antennas chosen for covering the areas are passive panels which have been discreetly positioned with custom fitted brackets in ideal locations to obtain a very low aesthetic impact. The system provides for the use of a total of 25 antennas.

Therefore, to offer a high quality service to the people present in the historic centre of Erice, through this multi-operator system it has been necessary to implement a total of 48 sectors dedicated to guaranteeing a high quality performance to residents and tourists in these areas. All guaranteed by 24/7 supervision, through Cellnex’s Network Operation Centre, equipped with all the hardware and software necessary for the supervision of the systems, and a suitable organizational structure of expert staff.

This whole project has a very specific goal, to ensure that history and technology can go hand in hand. As it already happens in the Italian cities of Genova and Milan, where Cellnex has designed and installed a network of over 200 microcells, constantly growing to address the city’s requirements.

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