New City of London MetNet system proves that Wi-Fi is still a force to be reckoned with

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Steven Bage, Strategic Infrastructure Advisor, City of London Corporation

The Square Mile of the City of London is one of the best know places on Earth and as the locus of the global financial sector, the City has some of the most modern and technologically advanced comms infrastructure on the planet, including a gigabit fibre network and an array of 4G small cells that will be evolved to 5G by 2021. Given that, you could be forgiven for thinking that everything is hunky-dory, but it's not. Steven Bage says that the medieval street layout of the Square Mile continue to cause communications problems to this very day.

As he explains, the City has to provide the best in world-leading wireless coverage if (Brexit notwithstanding) it is to remain competitive as a global business centre and yet, over the past decade, it has faced significant Wi-Fi signal interference and other challenges. He says the City needs and wants to provide a free, unlimited, fast, Wi-Fi network to service the City's 530,000 workers, it's 5 million business visitors and tourists and the Square Mile's 9,000 residents. The City's old wireless network operated in the 5GHz band - as did the comms of the area's panoply of restaurants, pubs and shops. Everyone was competing parties for space on the same spectrum allocation on the same network and sheer demand brought it to the point of collapse.

Finally, in September 2017, the City unveiled its new wireless network infrastructure, the CCS (Cambridge Communication Systems) Metnet, which self-organises data traffic backhaul in the 28Ghz spectrum range and leaves 5Ghz available for public access. The new infrastructure is not based on hotspot technology but is a more sophisticated line-of-sight system that ensures that continuing access can be provided to anyone on any street anywhere in the City. As Steven Bage says, "Wi-Fi complements 5G and will be here long into the future".

Filmed at Wireless Global Congress, London 2018

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