Street Light of the Future Would Provide Wi-Fi, Cell Coverage and More

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Martin Tessler, Mathew Bulford / V-Pole

It seems crazy today that the public infrastructure to support our data-hogging smartphones, tablets and laptops is so limited. That’s why Douglas Coupland created the V-Pole.

Think of it as a smart street light equipped with an LED light bulb and capable of providing Wi-Fi, improving cellphone service and charging electric cars. It would even feature a touchscreen where people could pay for parking or stop and get directions.

V-Pole stands for “Vancouver pole,” as it’s currently being considered by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. Why would Robertson invest thousands of dollars per V-Pole when Vancouver already has street lights?

According to the National Post, Vancouver’s downtown is filled with more than 100 cellphone towers from five competing carriers. British Columbia has pledged nearly $3 million to install 570 electric car charging stations within the province, and Vancouver was already looking to replace its old sodium street lights with LED lights. That’s a lot of birds killed with one stone.

The poles utilize lightRadio, small cubes developed by Alcatel-Lucent and Bell Labs that can be stacked on top of each other, covering different frequencies and negating the need for the clunky huts, fans and large amps that most cellphone towers require.

Mathew Bulford / V-Pole

Overall, each V-Pole would blanket about one and a half city blocks with data and reach about 12 feet in height. Pads underground would provide inductive charging for electric cars.

Are V-Poles the future? Coupland certainly thinks so, stating “You would never think of building a house or office tower without electricity — in the same way, you would never think of developing future cities without V-Poles.”

We’ll see whether everyone will be using “Vancouver poles,” but it’s a good bet that growing cities will want to condense all of the clunky infrastructure required to run the ever increasing number of smartphones with something similar.

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