The City of London (CoL) is already home to a smell cell based Wi-Fi and 4G network that claims to offer broadband speeds of up to 200Mbps across the Square Mile, but now Freshwave has been chosen to help deliver on the plan for a “city-wide deployment”That will push 5G coverage across the Square Mile by the end of 2022.
All of this appears to stem from a 2017 agreement, which saw the CoL Corporation sign a 15-year contract for the construction and management of a new 4G small cell network – this was jointly awarded to O2 (VMO2) and Cornerstone (here). The new network was intended to replace a much slower WiFi service from The Cloud (Sky Broadband).
In 2019 an update from the CoL noted that it had so far built a network of 200 small cells (mini 4G mobile base stations installed on street lighting columns and rooftops) across the Square Mile. But last year they also announced the launch of a new pilot with Cornerstone, which they said would be “held along Queen Victoria Street to demonstrate that mobile infrastructure can support the requirements of the four licensed mobile network operators“.
If successful, the CoL said that this would result in a “city-wide deployment that will deliver 5G coverage across the Square Mile by the end of 2022“. As part of this, Freshwave has now announced that they will be the ones upgrading existing infrastructure in the Square Mile to make it capable of delivering multi-operator (shareable) 4G and 5G connectivity at street level using Dark Fiber and small cells.
Simon Frumkin, Freshwave’s CEO, said:
“I’m pleased that we’m partnering with Cornerstone on this prestigious project. The City of London is one of the pre-eminent financial districts in the world and we’re proud to be bringing our leading multi-operator network service expertise to this pilot. ”
Graham Packham, City of London Corporation, said:
“This new deal will activate a 5G infrastructure pilot to all mobile networks this year which will make the City even more accessible and better connected for visitors, workers and residents. It is helping to drive forward momentum in the Square Mile’s recovery from the pandemic and will boost the City’s attractiveness for talent. ”
The plan involves a 10-site pilot, which will run along approximately 1km of Queen Victoria Street and pass sites such as Bank, Mansion House, the Millennium Bridge and Blackfriars. Bespoke antennas will be installed on the upgraded infrastructure and, with multiple pieces of telecoms equipment being housed in the accompanying fiber connected cabinets, there will be fewer devices needed on the street assets themselves.
The project is expected to start going live from October 2022, although the CoL does not now expect the full deployment to complete until the end of 2023.