Virgin Media, Cisco unveil first-ever commercial deployment of OpenRoaming at Canary Wharf

Wireless communications based on new connectivity aims to ‘dramatically’ improve efficiencies for more than 20,000 businesses, entrepreneurs, independent retailers, bars, cafes and workspaces in London’s Docklands

Canary Wharf Group (CWG), owner of one the largest business centres in Europe, together with Cisco and Virgin Media, has announced the first European commercial deployment of wireless connectivity based on the new OpenRoaming standard for residents on the London Docklands estate, who are demanding access to advanced digital infrastructure.

Combining the convenience of mobile roaming with Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, OpenRoaming allows devices to connect securely and automatically to Wi-Fi networks and roam seamlessly from one hotspot to another without the user needing to log in.

It is built on a set of standards and guidelines developed by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and the Wi-Fi Alliance, and will now be adopted as an industry-wide initiative, led by the WBA. The standard is said to have seen tremendous growth in the past year and is expected to play a crucial role in delivering great mobile experiences and ushering in a new era of mobile applications.

OpenRoaming aims to provide the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 connectivity to residents of CWG’s first build-to-rent building from Vertus at 10 George Street, and home owners at 10 Park Drive, CWG’s first for sale residential property, both at Wood Wharf. The latter is Canary Wharf’s new district, a five million square feet mixed-use development of over 3,000 new homes, including two million square feet of modern commercial space.

The technology providers believe that as the “new normal” begins, the ability to connect securely and automatically across retail, residential and guest corporate environments has never been more important for people working and living in the Docklands area, as well as those visiting for work and leisure.

They say that at a time when almost all organisations are considering new ways of operating their business, OpenRoaming will enable “seamless” and highly secured onboarding to Wi-Fi and will “dramatically” improve efficiencies for the more than 20,000 businesses, entrepreneurs, independent retailers, bars, cafes, workspaces and even the school that will be located on the Wood Wharf site.

The joint initiative will also aim to provide up to four times faster wireless speeds by deploying Cisco Meraki Wi-Fi 6 access points, along with location-based analytics to allow its clients to build unique services for their customers.

Cisco first announced that it was implementing and trialling Wi-Fi 6 throughout Canary Wharf in October 2019 and for the estate, next-generation connectivity was considered a critical utility. Virgin Media recently expanded its gigabit-capable network in Canary Wharf, connecting more than 1,000 homes over the past year. This is part of a wider plan to connect more than 4,000 homes in the area and provide connectivity to public spaces.

As OpenRoaming is designed to enable residents to take secure Wi-Fi connection with them across the Canary Wharf estate, the partners say seamless connectivity will become more prevalent in the future and will help provide highly secure Wi-Fi connectivity on the move.

Read more about Wi-Fi 6 and OpenRoaming

CWG will also help landlords and tenants to understand how their real estate is being used, with data analytics to drive efficiency in workspace design using Cisco DNA Spaces. This technology enables over-the-top use cases such as location-based services, end-user engagement and wayfinding to enable individuals to find the meeting room or retail stores, for example.

“Our commercial, retail and residential customers are demanding access to world-class digital infrastructure and next-generation connectivity,” said Canary Wharf Group chief executive Shobi Khan. “Canary Wharf Group is committed to creating an estate-wide environment in which businesses can thrive. The roll-out of Wi-Fi 6 and OpenRoaming is a vital part of our continuously evolving user experience for residents and visitors.”

David Meads, chief executive, Cisco UK and Ireland, added: “This year, for many UK businesses, what was once deemed ‘the future of work’ became a reality almost overnight. As businesses now accelerate to a digitised and automated future, OpenRoaming and Wi-Fi 6 will play a critical role in that journey.

“In the next normal, strengthened digital infrastructure and robust cyber security are fundamental to recovery and growth. They provide the foundations for businesses to benefit in the digital economy.”

Read more on Software-defined networking (SDN)

Data Center
Data Management