EE live in first-of-its-kind mobile infrastructure pilot in City of London with Freshwave

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EE live in first-of-its-kind mobile infrastructure pilot in City of London with Freshwave

  • Virgin Media O2 has also signed up to be part of the pilot and will go live in early 2023
  • UK’s first outdoor 4G and 5G small cell network to host all four mobile network operators from day one – thanks to bespoke solution and centralized radio access network
  • Freshwave delivers the pilot for franchisees Cornerstone

EE Mobile users in the City of London can now enjoy improved 4G and 5G coverage along Queen Victoria Street thanks to an innovative connectivity pilot led by Freshwave. Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) has also joined the pilot and is expected to go live in early 2023.

In busy areas such as city centers, the number of people using mobile devices can create high demand on the macro site serving that area. Outdoor cells installed at street level handle some of that demand themselves, making them ideal for improving mobile connectivity in densely populated areas. 5G technology also means networks need to be densified and these are the first 5G outdoor small cells to be installed in the City of London.

City of London

City of London

Connectivity infrastructure-as-a-service provider Freshwave has built new mobile infrastructure in the 10-site pilot to make it sharable 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 without any infrastructure adaptations required – a first for the UK. The solution consists of specially designed broadband antennas, cabinets and columns and large amounts of dark fiber 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 reducing street clutter and the associated disruption during street works.

Shareable infrastructure also reduces environmental impact, while still bringing street-level connectivity to everyone’s benefit. The network uses a centralized radio access network (C-RAN) and by housing various pieces of telecommunications equipment in associated cabinets, fewer devices are needed on the street assets themselves. The network uses dark fiber built by wholesale fiber broadband operator Netomnia.

Vodafone will join the pilot in the first quarter of 2023.

Simon Frumkin, Freshwave’s CEO, said: “We are delighted to reach this milestone in the launch of our true multi-operator neutral hosting network. Shared digital infrastructure is the logical evolution in telecommunications as cities become more connected and smarter. Companies like Freshwave that use the neutral hosting model help accelerate this connection for everyone, as the model is more cost-effective, greener and less disruptive. I am proud that Freshwave is doing what is right by all parties in this area.”

James Hope, Director of Mobile Radio Access Networks at EE, said: “High capacity, superfast connectivity is essential for consumers and businesses today, with demand for data and low-latency networks continuing to rise. We are pleased to be the first operator to go live on this pilot with Freshwave helping to deliver the best possible 4G and 5G services to our City of London customers, even at the busiest times. The project is a further demonstration of how we are improving our networks to both help digitize and deliver economic prosperity to the UK, and we look forward to expanding this in the future.”

Paul Broome, VMO2 London & South-East Trial Manager, said: “With the largest outdoor small cell network of any of the major operators, we are excited to be partnering with Freshwave for this pilot. Adding extra capacity to our existing legacy solution of over 200 small cells in the City of London will provide further benefit for the ever-increasing data demands of its users. Outdoor small cells provide a flexible solution for boosting network connectivity and we look forward to going live on the network soon.”

Graham Packham, chairman of the Streets and Walkways sub-committee of the City of London Corporation, said: “The City is already a global business hub and this mobile connection will play an important role in helping it also become a 24/ 7 to become a visitor destination. We are constantly looking for new ways to increase the City’s appeal to businesses, visitors and residents.”

Mobile infrastructure services provider Cornerstone holds the concession with the City Corporation and Freshwave delivers the pilot through this concession.

Denis Coakley, Cornerstone’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Freshwave is a trusted partner and has made great progress in this pilot, so we are pleased to welcome the first mobile network operators to the network and launch with them. We are excited about the future progress and the benefits it will bring in our long-term partnership with the City of London Corporation.”

Jeremy Chelot, CEO at Netomnia, said: “We are proud to work with Freshwave on this pioneering project to improve mobile connectivity in the City. We are committed to working closely with all our partners on the project to quickly deliver full fiber access with minimal disruption to the local community.”

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Media inquiries
For further information or interviews please contact:
Amy Murphy: [email protected]
Rachel Phillips: [email protected]

Notes to editors

About Freshwave
Freshwave invests expertise and capital in ways that make digital infrastructure remarkably simple. Faster, less expensive and in the right places. It is the connectivity infrastructure-as-a-service provider that brings together mobile operators, central and local government and property providers to work in new ways. Their managed sites include some of the largest, most challenging wireless environments in the UK, including several central London boroughs and Docklands. With 6000+ master site locations, 2000+ buildings connected and 200+ outdoor networks supported; they ensure that everyone is networked. Backed by DigitalBridge, they also combine technical telecommunications and commercial real estate knowledge to create long-term market impact. To learn more, visit www.freshwavegroup.com

About BT Group
BT Group is the UK’s leading provider of fixed and mobile telecommunications and related secure digital products, solutions and services. We also provide managed telecommunications, security and network and IT infrastructure services to clients across 180 countries.

BT Group comprises four customer-facing units: Consumer serving individuals and families in the UK; Enterprise and Global are our UK and international business units respectively; Openreach is an independently controlled, wholly-owned subsidiary that wholesales fixed access infrastructure services to its customers – more than 650 communications providers across the UK.

British Telecommunications plc is a wholly owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and includes substantially all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

For more information, visit www.bt.com/about

About the City of London Corporation
The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving city, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally successful UK – www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

About Netomnia
Netomnia develops full fiber infrastructure using innovative technology and agile deployment to bring ultrafast broadband to underserved towns and cities across the UK.

Founded in 2019, Netomnia invests in rapidly building a high-quality multi-gigabit network for UK homes and businesses.

Netomnia aims to become the third national full fiber network operator in the UK. In partnership with major UK construction companies, Netomnia is committed to leveling the digital playing field by providing access to truly fast and affordable digital connectivity to as many UK residents and businesses as possible, currently targeting one million residential and business premises.

Netomnia makes wholesale connections available to service providers, including YouFibre, which has delivered the UK’s fastest broadband packages of up to 10 Gbps to customers.

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