EE mobile users in the City of London can now enjoy enhanced 4G and 5G coverage along Queen Victoria Street thanks to an innovative connectivity pilot led by Freshwave. Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) has also signed up to the pilot and is expected to go live early in 2023.
In busy areas such as city centres, the number of people using mobile devices can create high demand on the macro site serving that area. Outdoor small cells installed at street level process some of that demand themselves, making them ideal for enhancing mobile connectivity in densely populated areas. 5G technology also means networks must be densified and these are the first 5G outdoor small cells to be installed in the City of London.
Connectivity infrastructure-as-a-service provider Freshwave built new mobile infrastructure in the 10-site pilot to make it shareable and capable of delivering 4G and 5G for all four mobile network operators (MNOs). EE is now live on Freshwave’s neutral host network. A neutral host network is a network sharing infrastructure arrangement facilitated by a third party.
Freshwave designed a bespoke solution for the pilot which means the network can accommodate all four mobile network operators on 4G and 5G from day one with no adjustments to the infrastructure needed – a first for the UK. The solution consists of specially designed wideband antennas, cabinets and columns and large amounts of dark fibre to each cabinet.
This multi-operator outdoor small cell network is the culmination of more than two years of Freshwave’s close collaboration with all four MNOs and other industry partners. The first-of-its-kind network’s shareable infrastructure reduces equipment and infrastructure duplication, making it more cost-effective to deploy, as well as minimising street clutter and the associated disruption during street works.
Shareable infrastructure also reduces the environmental impact, while still bringing street level connectivity for everyone’s benefit. The network uses a centralised radio access network (C-RAN) and by housing multiple pieces of telecoms equipment in accompanying cabinets fewer devices are needed on the street assets themselves. The