Virgin Media Business and Siklu trial urban small cell backhaul network in UK

Siklu’s wireless backhaul shown to cope successfully with street level installation and operational challenges

Virgin Media Business and Siklu trial urban small cell backhaul network in UK

Virgin Media Business and Siklu, the millimeter wave backhaul system provider, have successfully trialled a small cell backhaul network in Leeds in the UK.

In the trial, which was conducted under typical small cell network conditions, Siklu radios were installed on lighting poles across Leeds by installers without any telecommunications experience. The EtherHaul-600T backhaul radios were easily deployed and performed flawlessly during the trial, according to the company.

This small cell deployment comes after Virgin Media Business was awarded a concession by Leeds City Council in 2012. This gave the company access to street furniture in order to provide public Wi-Fi and to boost mobile data services in locations across the city. It also enabled Virgin Media Business to provide Sync E fibre backhaul to mobile operators for small cell network deployment.

In the first step of the trial, a small cell network on the street furniture proved the feasibility of street level deployments. There are a number of installation and operational challenges in these deployments that operators haven’t faced with their macrocell deployments.

For example, access to street furniture is limited, both in terms of personnel and time to deploy. The authorised installation personnel do not always have telecom expertise, so installation needs to be light touch. Unit size has to be small, so it blends in with the environment, and equipment needs to perform reliably despite street pole sway, twist, and tilt.

For the trial, Virgin Media Business deployed Siklu's EtherHaul-600T units up and down a major street in Leeds, on different types of lighting poles. The Leeds City Council lighting contractor performed the installation. The installation went quickly and smoothly, and the equipment has been working flawlessly since installation, Siklu asserted.

“We have been impressed with how well Siklu’s radios have performed. During the trial, they were tested with both rain and varying wind conditions, which often disturbs the unit's position on the pole, and have continued to run smoothly,” said Bruce Girdlestone,  senior business development manager, Virgin Media Business.

Siklu’s EtherHaul-600T is designed for deployment on any type of street furniture and provides gigabit throughput along with advanced networking and multiple ports for deployment in daisy chain or ring topologies.

“The Leeds trial is quite typical of small cell backhaul scenarios we’ve seen," said Shahar Peleg, director of product management for Siklu. "Our EtherHaul-600T shines on the street. It’s the smallest backhaul radio in the world. It can be installed by any installer with authorised access to the street poles, with no telco background needed, and it provides enough capacity for the complex topologies needed in street level installations."

Peleg added: “Siklu is very focused on driving down small cell installation and operational backhaul costs for operators, which is why we’ve just added an auto-alignment kit and zero touch commissioning to the EtherHaul-600T. That reduces installation time to under 15 minutes.”

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