Arqiva and CityFibre team up on 5G-ready fibre project in Hammersmith and Fulham
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:

Arqiva and CityFibre are working together on what they claim to be the UK’s largest pilot of wholesale and 5G-ready infrastructure to support the rollout of small cells.

Over the course of the multi-million pound pilot project, the two partners will create a new 15km high-density multi-operator capable fibre network that will provide the bandwidth for mobile network operators (MNOs) to explore advanced technology including centralised C-Ran architecture and 5G. The network consists of a fibre ring with more than 90 cabinets to enable the sharing of the infrastructure.

The companies claim that the fibre network, installed by CityFibre, will provide operators with increased, scalable and cost effective backhaul capacity, giving any MNO the ability to quickly and easily deploy small cells to connect businesses and residents to the 5G network.

“The pilot has enabled us to explore small cell network architecture, density and backhaul requirements,” said a CityFibre spokesperson. “We have used these learnings to validate the suitability of our existing networks to serve 5G roll-outs as well as to further evolve our design process.”

The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham is home to around 180,000 people living in about 84,000 households in an area of 6.3 square miles. The project partners state that the density of its population will put extra pressure on telecoms connectivity as demand for voice and data continues to grow exponentially.

Arqiva was awarded the concession contract with Hammersmith & Fulham in 2014, allowing the company to make use of the borough’s street assets – including lampposts – to place communications equipment. These street assets are critical to network densification and are an integral part of this network rollout, along with the deployment of cabinets at street level which provide a shared space for multiple MNO small cells. Arqiva worked closely with the borough to select the most appropriate locations for the infrastructure to provide the greatest benefit to users.

Hammersmith & Fulham represents one of Arqiva’s 14 street furniture concessions in London, with similar contracts existing in Barnet, Brent, Camden, Haringey, Harrow, Hounslow, Islington, Kingston-Upon-Thames, Lambeth, Merton, Richmond upon Thames, Waltham Forest and Wandsworth.

David Crawford, managing director of telecoms & M2M at Arqiva, said: “This pilot network is a massive step forward for mobile and fixed wireless connectivity in London. We are showing that ubiquitous high-speed connections using dark fibre and small cells are possible and we are delighted to be leading the way with our pilot in Hammersmith & Fulham. As demand for data continues to increase exponentially, the pressures on networks will continue to grow and densification using street furniture and small cells is critical to deliver the network of the future.

“Our aim with this project is to show the business and consumer benefits of this architecture and a successful rollout in Hammersmith & Fulham can be the prelude to a wider deployment in future.”

Rob Hamlin, commercial director at CityFibre, said: “This has been an invaluable exercise to demonstrate the capability of our fibre networks to support the next generation of 5G small cells and services. 5G networks will only work on fibre and a new modern infrastructure is needed at scale to support them. With our £2.5bn rollout of full fibre infrastructure to five million homes already underway, we are creating a 5G-ready network platform nationwide that will provide the best network at the best economics for MNOs.”

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