Manchester gets wireless broadband


Manchester gets wireless broadband

Arif Mohamed

A city-wide broadband wireless IP network has been launched in Manchester, offering services such as wireless CCTV and disaster recovery. If successful, the IT model could be adopted by other cities as an alternative to leased lines.

The network, from Manchester Metronet, offers users network speeds of between 64kbps and 155mbps or higher. Metronet said it would link users to the service within five days of order, which is likely to be faster than establishing private leased lines.

One of the first users of the service is Manchester-based Community Security, which provides around-the-clock monitoring services for property owners and schools. It is using the Metronet service for high-quality wireless CCTV.

The Manchester Metronet service has 13 secure radio points of presence built on top of high-rise buildings, which provide coverage to users within the M60 ring road.

The points of presence are linked using a fault-tolerant fibre optic ring, so network traffic can be rerouted in an emergency. The Metronet network uses Cisco and Extreme routers and switches.

Users of the service become part of a wireless local loop, which is delivered via a carrier-grade radio link. Users can access the broadband radio link by installing a small radio on the exterior of their building, which is cabled (using Category 5 cable) to their IT department or monitoring room.

James McCall, director of Manchester Metronet, said the service would offer users an alternative to BT's fibre optic cable services, in particular.

Manchester Metronet worked with Manchester City Council, NCP and Greater Manchester Police to deliver the service.

Manchester Metronet itself acquired £10m worth of network infrastructure installed by Atlantic Telecom. It then redesigned and expanded the network, enabling it to carry IP data traffic.

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