City Of London Prepares Guildhall 5G Wireless Trials

The City of London Corporation is preparing to carry out trials of 5G wireless technology at Guildhall, building on a new public Wi-Fi network switched on in the district last week, policy chairman Catherine McGuinness has said.

The multi-million-pound network, freely available to the public and offering speeds from 50 to 180 Mbps, was announced in April and was built by Virgin Media, UK Power Networks and J B Riney & Co., the city’s highways contractor.

It is operated by O2 and Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure (CTIL) and succeeds a previous offering from The Cloud, the Sky subsidiary now known as Sky WiFi.

The network includes more than 150 access points, many built into street furniture such as signage, buildings and CCTV columns, according to the corporation.

Cell deployment

Writing in City A.M., McGuinness said the city’s 15-year contract with CTIL also involves the development of cutting-edge mobile infrastructure, including the deployment of more than 400 “small cells”, transceivers that boost mobile capacity.

CTIL has already begun deploying the cells and 20 are currently active in the City, McGuinness said.

The corporation and CTIL are planning to build on this mobile network to carry out a 5G trial at Guildhall, with “discussions are taking place now” to make the necessary arrangements.

“As the first borough able to commit to such a comprehensive deployment of “small cells” – transmitters capable of boosting mobile capacity – we are at the forefront of delivering cutting edge digital infrastructure,” she wrote.

Streamlined roll-out

5G technologies are still at the planning stage, but McGuinness said 5G networks are expected to be available by 2021.

The city’s long-term contract with CTIL, which is planning to complete its network of cellular transmitters by 2019, is intended to help the city prepare for 5G’s arrival.

“When 5G is ‘switched on’ in the UK, the City of London will be ready,” McGuinness explained.

She said the public Wi-Fi network is “one of the largest investments in wireless infrastructure ever seen in London” and should serve as a model for other boroughs to follow.

“By working closely with planners and highways officers, we have been able to set up an effective, streamlined process, reducing any unnecessary red tape to enable a fast roll-out.”

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Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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