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Cisco to build O2’s public Wi-Fi network for City of London

O2 enlists Cisco to help build out the multi-million pound public Wi-Fi network currently taking shape in London’s Square Mile

Cisco’s Aironet next-generation outdoor wireless access point (AP) technology will form the core of the City of London Corporation’s free public Wi-Fi network, which will be deployed across the Square Mile during the summer of 2017.

The project, which is being delivered by Cornerstone Telecommunication Infrastructure (CITL) – a joint venture between Vodafone and Telefónica – and the O2 mobile network, aims to offer one of the most technically advanced public access Wi-Fi services in the world.

The technology partners claim it will enable residents, workers and visitors in the City of London to use high-bandwidth video services.

O2 will use Cisco’s Aironet 1560 Series to deliver the network throughput capacity necessary for data-hungry devices, alongside 400 4G mobile small cells designed to enhance coverage in the centre of London, and prepare the City for the advent of 5G in a few years’ time.

“Free Wi-Fi connectivity is now a pre-requisite for any city looking to drive innovation and compete on a globe scale,” said Peter Karlstromer, senior vice-president of global service providers for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Russia (Emear) at Cisco.

“The deployment with O2, and partnership with CTIL and the City of London, is a perfect example of the role that cities can play in connecting people. We are excited to continue to support the roll-out of free Wi-Fi across London and ensure that next generation connectivity is accessible to everyone.”

O2 COO Derek McManus added: “Continued investment in infrastructure is essential to maintain the UK’s reputation as a digital leader, and we needed a partner that would be able to provide cutting-edge technology to help us realise this.”

“We’re pleased to be working with Cisco to support this initiative using its robust, speedy and seamless technology to create a Wi-Fi network and enable the capital to help retain its position as a leading global centre.”

Network access in the City of London has long been a bugbear for many, not least the major enterprises that base themselves there.

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This is at least in part down to a dense, medieval street plan and a high number of tall buildings, but the issue is not just limited to mobility; it extends to fixed broadband access as well.

At the end of June 2017, the London Assembly Regeneration Committee said sub-standard connectivity threatened London’s economy.

“London’s digital connectivity is frankly embarrassing in some areas and will no doubt lead to major issues in terms of the city’s global attractiveness as a place to live, work and do business. We need to act before it is too late and London’s success is threatened,” said regeneration committee chair Navin Shah.

More recently, network builder Arqiva acquired two tranches of mobile radio spectrum to build a fixed wireless access (FWA) network in central London as part of a trial of technology to support 5G. The trial, which was first announced in February 2017, will begin later in July.

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