Aberdeen: WIG and O2 deploy fibre-connected small cell network with C-RAN support
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:

The Wireless Infrastructure Group (WIG) and O2 have partnered to launch what they claim is the UK’s first fibre-connected small cell network, supporting cloud radio access network (C-RAN) technology for faster and higher capacity mobile services. WIG also announced plans to significantly expand its fibre operations focused on serving mobile networks.

WIG’s new wireless infrastructure uses a network of small cells attached to lamp-posts and traffic lights across Aberdeen’s city centre. The small cells are connected back to a nearby hub using WIG’s newly constructed fibre links which enable new network models that deliver faster and higher capacity mobile services. The infrastructure was designed, deployed and funded by WIG and is built to support all mobile operators as well as other wireless networks.

O2 is the first mobile operator to launch its services using the infrastructure and has played a key role in its development, deploying C-RAN technology which is new to the UK. O2 will initially run advanced 4G services but the fibre-connected small cells pave the way for 5G by enabling faster speeds, lower latency and better coordination between cells than traditional network methods.

The first wave of small cell deployment in Aberdeen has now been switched on in key parts of the city and the network passes busy public venues such as the central railway station, Aberdeen University and Aberdeen FC’s stadium. The network is expected to extend across the rest of the city in the years ahead.

“Every major city in the UK is thinking about small cells but in the race to be 5G ready, Aberdeen’s city council had the vision to unlock industry investment in the enabling wireless infrastructure needed to transform mobile connectivity, said Scott Coates, WIG’s CEO. “Aberdeen City Council’s close collaboration in the planning and deployment of our infrastructure has been critical to the project’s success.

“Our Aberdeen investment marks a step change in WIG’s fibre ambitions. There is an urgent need for more fibre infrastructure to support the UK’s wireless sector and WIG plans to address this by constructing bespoke new fibre networks for the deployment of small cells and their integration with existing mobile backhaul networks.”

“We are delighted to be working with WIG on this project,” said Brendan O’Reilly, chief technology officer at O2. “Building digital connectivity into our economic future now is essential to ensuring that Scotland, and the rest of the UK, become some of the best-connected countries in the world. The small cell network in Aberdeen represents a successful collaboration between council, infrastructure provider and mobile network operator. It is a crucial step along the path to making the UK 5G ready.”

Councillor Douglas Lumsden, Aberdeen City Council co-leader added: “We have a clear vision of enabling the best mobile and wireless connectivity across Aberdeen to stimulate local economic growth. Many departments across the council have engaged closely with WIG to develop the processes needed to make this happen. We are delighted with the deployment of this state of the art network by WIG, with O2 as the first mobile network to come on board”.

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