19 Apr 2018

Self-organising microwave backhaul powers 4G small cell network

Cambridge Communication Systems (CCS) announces the completion and go-live of a next-generation small cell network in London’s Square Mile, with neutral host microwave backhaul provided by CCS Metnet.

The first phase of deployment is now complete and the live small cell network is delivering high-speed, 4G wireless coverage and capacity to businesses, residents and visitors in London’s iconic global finance hub.

This announcement marks the latest phase in the roll-out of an ambitious next-generation Wi-Fi and small cells network designed to boost coverage and capacity across the Square Mile. The project – awarded by City of London Corporation to CTIL, working in partnership with O2 – combines high speed free public Wi-Fi in the UK with a Nokia Flexi Zone 4G small cell network, backhauled by CCS.

The backhaul of the new network is built on CCS Metnet – the only self-organising 5G microwave backhaul – operating in the licensed area-based 28GHz band. Small cells and Wi-Fi access points have been installed on street furniture, with the “de minimis” form factor of the Metnet nodes ensuring unobstrusive deployment throughout the City’s historic streets. Over 50 small cells have been deployed in the initial phase, with hundreds more planned to the remainder of this year.

Based on a unique self-organising mesh architecture, Metnet is quick to deploy, easy to scale, and offers high capacity and low latency coupled with high availability and resilience, robust synchronisation and lowest total cost of ownership. CCS Metnet operates in a single frequency channel with no radio frequency planning required. Frequency reuse in the entire network is 1. Each node has a wide 270-degree field of view, so only one unit is required per site, rather than multiple radios. Metnet eliminates the need for any manual alignment, and each node supports multiple connections for higher resilience.

Derek McManus, Chief Operating Officer at O2 said: “With 10 million visitors passing through the Square Mile every year, the need for a better public Wi-Fi service in the area was clear. CCS Metnet’s backhaul service successfully addressed the key technical and operational challenges of deployment and we are delighted with the initial user feedback received. As demands for more mobile frequency and easier access continue to increase, projects like this are essential to ensuring that consumers in London and across the UK get the mobile service they deserve.”

Jamie Olejnik, Technical Programme Manager, CTIL added: “Metnet’s self-optimising capabilities and wide field of view made it the perfect solution for this complex deployment, fulfilling our design criteria and generating the very high level of performance demanded by visitors, residents and workers in the City of London. The solution we have delivered, together with our partners, provides a superb platform for developing London’s 5G and smart city capabilities – for which successful small cell roll-out will be key – and we are delighted to be enhancing the mobile user experience across the Square Mile.”

Commenting on the go-live, CCS CEO Steve Greaves said: “This is an exemplary success story for London, and for the ability of Metnet to deliver reliable and high-performance neutral host Wi-Fi and small cell connectivity in dense urban environments. We are proud to have delivered this project – in conjunction with O2, CTIL, the City of London and the entire project team – which is optimising the quality and performance of wireless across the country’s key business hub, and to be supporting the City of London in its ambitions to boost the capital’s reputation as a world-leading smart city.”

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