Surf City gets smart lights

SURF CITY is getting smart lights – with integral 4G and 5G connectivity.

The Smart Fusion Poles are of a heritage design but boast a host of high tech capabilities, including intelligent sensors that can detect traffic conditions, parking spaces, and air quality. Picture: American Tower Company

The popular surfing town of Huntington, California, is becoming the first city in world to install new hybrid streetlight and cellular transmitters with built-in 5G masts.

The so-called Smart Fusion Poles are of a heritage design but boast a host of high tech capabilities, including intelligent sensors that can detect traffic conditions, parking spaces, and air quality, all connected to central information points and the cloud for distribution to individuals, city managers.

The light fittings – the result of a joint venture between Philips and Boston-based wireless communications specialist American Tower Company – are expected to be installed along the city’s coastal highway, Highway 1. A further tranche of fittings will illuminate the lively downtown area of shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars.

The two companies made the announcement at the Mobile World Congress, the annual gathering of the mobile industry in Barcelona.

While the Huntington Beach agreement marked a symbolic step forward for the concept of combining street lighting and mobile technologies, the three parties still have to work out certain details.

A Philips and American Tower spokesperson told Lux sister publication LEDs Magazine that the city has not yet committed to a date to start installing the poles. The agreement gives Philips and American Tower the rights to as many as 200 existing street-light locations, but that does not mean that the city will install 200 new poles. And the current agreement does not include any smart city sensors, although they can be added later.

American Tower owns the poles, and will lease out antenna space to mobile network operators. Advanced networks such as 5G should further help distribute information gathered by any eventual sensors, and could also provide the wireless conduit for lighting control and maintenance.

Notably, the Huntington Beach arrangement does not presently call for CityTouch, the wireless remote management system that Philips has deployed in some 1,000 locations including Los Angeles, tapping cellular networks. Philips will provide its Hadco and Lumec luminaires.

Fine print of the Huntington Beach deal aside, Mayor Mike Posey has a lively vision for the smart pole technology, emphasising the potential for innovative data uses as well as the aesthetics of a design that hides away the antennas.

‘We want to be a leader in smart city initiatives to provide residents, businesses, and visitors a better city experience and quality of life,’ Posey said.'Equally important is the ability to maintain the aesthetics of this beautiful seaside city I call home. That’s why I am excited about the Smart Fusion Pole; it provides the connectivity required for our smart city initiatives without sacrificing the beauty and vista of our city.'

Excited about the Smart Fusion Pole: Huntington Mayor Mike Posey. Picture courtesy the City of Huntington 2017

Some lighting industry enthusiasts believe that the emergence of 5G — anticipated around 2020 — will drive street lighting forward as the true backbone of smart city services. That’s why lighting companies such as Finland’s Helvar are participating in 5G trials.

Philips and American Tower said that the exact location of the installations 'will be determined pending the network needs of the mobile network operator as well as local residents and businesses in Huntington Beach.'

Huntington Beach, which is between Los Angeles and San Diego, won trademark rights to the Surf City, USA moniker in 2008 in a legal dispute with Santa Cruz, California.


  • Mark Halper is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine


  • The design of LED luminaires is the subject of this year's Lighting Fixture Design Conference, which takes place on 20 and 21 June 2018 . Organised by Lux and LEDs magazine, the event takes place at the Cavendish Conference Centre in London. For more information and to reserve you place, click HERE.



Main pic: Shutterstock 2018. Luminaire pictures: American Tower Company.