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In order to replace damaged infrastructure or sites requiring provisional equipment, Axians has developed temporary all-in-one (AIO) telecoms infrastructure solutions that are rapidly deployable, serve multiple use cases and have a low environmental impact.

Telecommunications infrastructure can become damaged for a whole host of reasons – fires, natural disasters, breakdowns, etc. Towable telescopic masts do exist for such cases, but they are technically limited and mainly useful for short events. Similarly, most temporary and self-supporting masts cannot be installed in an emergency, since prior administrative steps need to be taken or even a building permit obtained due to their large footprint.

By listening to feedback from its clients, namely mobile network operators and tower companies, Axians Services Infrastructures Solutions (VINCI Energies) came up with the idea of designing a simple, rapid and environmentally-friendly telecoms tower deployment solution for damaged infrastructure and for sites requiring temporary equipment. This all-in-one (AIO) solution, with a footprint of less than 5m2, can reach a height of 12 to 25m in half a day.

Innovative solution

Designing the AIO solution involved extensive R&D work by the Axians Services Infrastructures Solutions design office, particularly wind resistance calculations (to avoid toppling/slippage). The work resulted in a patent being filed.

“The AIO solution delivers a sevenfold reduction in carbon impact compared with a traditional permanent site.”

“The stabilisation system is truly innovative. It means the infrastructure can be installed on slopes of 7% without the need for civil works that would incur additional costs,” stresses Axel Marty, who is responsible for international business development at Axians Services Infrastructures Solutions.

The solution requires neither anchoring nor earthworks, but is based on four ballast weights, each filled with 4 tonnes of concrete. “In fact, the installation’s surface load is considerably lower than that of a vehicle parked in a car-park,” adds Axel Marty, who also points to the environmental benefits of the process: “Since the concrete weights are reusable, we save 30m3 of concrete with each new project. This also generates time and money savings. The AIO solution delivers a sevenfold reduction in carbon impact compared with a traditional permanent site.”

Finally, pre-installing the telecoms equipment on the structure not only saves time and money but is safer for engineers.

Agile infrastructure

Since it was first marketed in 2017, the all-in-one solution has proved highly successful across a range of use cases. In Meyzieu, in Greater Lyon, a structure of this kind was deployed in September 2020 following an arson attack on a telecoms site.

The town of Sausset-les-Pins, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department in southern France, installed the solution in May 2021 for the duration of the summer in order to avoid network congestion during the peak tourist period. “We painted the structure white like a boat mast so that it blends in better,” notes Axel Marty who also mentions that an AIO mast was camouflaged with greenery near a campsite in Valras-Plage, again in southern France.

The Axians solution is also useful in mobile signal blindspots. Faced with the binding deadlines set out in the French government’s “New Deal Mobile” programme, mobile network operators now have the option of providing an area with rapid coverage by installing telecoms infrastructure within 20 days as opposed to two years for a definitive site. Examples here include the AIO structures installed in La Roque-Esclapon, in the Var department, and in Le Clat, in the Aude department.

Building on the success of the AIO mast, Axians Services Infrastructures Solutions in 2020 developed a similar solution – the AIO platform – for rooftop terraces in towns. “It’s a 5m2 metal platform with four 3m-high masts in all four corners (three antennas and one radio-relay system). The masts pivot so as to make maintenance easier and safer,” explains Axel Marty.

This type of platform was installed in Montpellier in October 2021 in order to ensure service continuity while an existing telecoms site was being transported from its initial location to a neighbouring building. Axians hopes to find further opportunities for temporary telecoms infrastructure in France and worldwide.

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