Arqiva and CityFibre partner for UK’s largest pilot of 5G-ready small cell infrastructure

05 December 2018

The firms have created a new 15km high density fibre network which is multi-operator capable.

The firms have created a new 15km high density fibre network which is multi-operator capable.

Arqiva and CityFibre are working together on what’s claimed to be the UK’s largest pilot of wholesale, 5G-ready small cell infrastructure.

As part of a multimillion pound pilot project, the partners have created an all new 15km high density fibre network in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

This consists of a fibre ring with more than 90 cabinets to enable the sharing of the infrastructure.

The partners say the network is multi-operator capable and provides the bandwidth for mobile operators to explore advanced technology, such as centralised cloud-based radio access network (C-RAN) architecture and 5G. 

The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham is home to around 180,000 people living in about 84,000 households in an area of 6.3 square miles. 

According to Arqiva, the density of its population will put extra pressure on telecoms connectivity as demand for voice and data continues to grow exponentially.

The company was originally awarded a contract allowing it to make use of the borough’s street assets to place communications equipment in 2014.

Arqiva says these street assets, such as such as lamp poles, are critical to network densification and rollout, along with the deployment of cabinets at street level which provide a shared space for multiple mobile operator small cells. 

David Crawford, MD of Telecoms and M2M at Arqiva, describes the pilot network as 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. 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.

CityFibre adds that the network, which it has installed, will provide operators with increased, scalable and cost effective backhaul capacity. 

It reckons this give any mobile operator the ability to quickly and easily deploy small cells to connect businesses and residents to 5G networks. 

CityFibre recently announced a £2.5bn full fibre investment programme to provide a national backhaul solution for 5G rollouts.