London: The Biggest Small Network in the World

Posted by Sam Churchill on

London’s Oxford Economics estimates London, with a population of 8 million-plus, could draw 6 million more over the course of the games, many of them crowding into the Olympic park for events. Analysts question whether preparations are enough to serve so many accessing mobile and Wi-Fi networks at once.

Telefonica O2 has been deploying metrocells across London, and have placed them on 400 street lamps.

Their extensive 1,500 small cell deployment in the London Olympic Village uses Alcatel-Lucent metrocells and open access indoor femtocells to achieve an astonishing throughput of 1 Gbit/s per square kilometre. O2 claims to have built, “the biggest small network in the world“, using both small cells and 14,000 Wi-Fi access points.

Based on Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadiotechnology, Telefonica’s network brings small-cell base stations closer to the customer, even on lampposts. As a strong supporter for Telefonica’s LTE service initiative, Samsung is planning LTE GALAXY smartphones and Tablets for band 7 (2.6Mhz). The network supports speeds of up to 10 times those offered by the 3G network, with download speeds of 100Mbps, upload speeds of 40-60 Mbps and with latency times of around 20-25 milliseconds.

O2’s Wifi network in London will span Exhibition Road, High Street Kensington, Parliament Square, Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street/ Regent Street, Leicester Square and Piccadilly.

Mobile providers in London include No. 1 Everything Everywhere, a venture between DT and France Telecom, Telefonica’s O2, and UK-based Vodafone, while British Telecom (BT), provides mostly landline and WiFi connectivity. BT has wholesale agreements providing customers on their networks with free access to about 4,000 Wi-Fi hotspots. BT also negotiated an agreement with AT&T that lets visiting customers of the U.S. phone company use any hotspot at their normal roaming rate. Other tourists from overseas can buy e-vouchers for Wi-Fi access.

With LTE-Advanced, a relay station may use the same channel for both local access and backhaul, using different packets for each function. It promises tiny, one-piece relay points, but the hardware to support the LTE-A standard is still in development.

Light Reading explains that 02 originally hoped to have integrated Wi-Fi/cellular access points, but it turned out that this wasn’t an option for them. “The industry isn’t quite there with integrated Wi-Fi and cellular capability,” said Gavin Franks, managing director of O2 WiFi. “We decided to go with the best solution that we thought was future proof.

The 02 WiFi network has been deployed on every 4th street lamp and uses a Ruckus 8800 wireless AP, the “first multi-radio outdoor access point developed to integrate 3G/4G, Wi-Fi and backhaul into a single, lightweight, small-form factor”. A Ruckus 7762 unit provides backhaul. Telefonica uses 5 GHz Wi-Fi mesh links between nodes. Ruckus Smart Mesh uses their adaptive antenna arrays (BeamFlex) and predictive channel management techniques (ChannelFly), backhauling both licensed cellular and unlicensed Wi-Fi traffic in both line of sight and non-line of site environments.

Bringing a 3G-like user experience to Wi-Fi authentication and roaming, the Ruckus SmartCell system makes use of the new 802.11u protocol within the Wi-Fi alliance HotSpot 2.0 framework.

With HotSpot 2.0, subscribers no longer must manually select Wi-Fi networks and enter security keys and credentials. The Ruckus SmartCell 8800 is centrally provisioned and managed by a Ruckus SmartCell 200 gateway. It features support for Hotspot 2.0, GPS auto-location, smart meshing, predictive channel assignment and always-on WLAN spectrum monitoring.

Separately, Telefonica has successfully trialed solar powered outdoor 3G femtocells, which are backhauled over LTE. They have a total power consumption of 15W. Telefonica selected Alcatel-Lucent as small cell supplier in Europe and South America.

The nine venues on site can hold more than 160,000 spectators at any one time, reports the BBC. Twenty thousand members of the media are expected, and the Olympic village houses about 17,500 athletes and officials. They will be joined by thousands more workers and security staff. At peak time when one set of spectators leaves and another arrives, between 200,000 to 300,000 people will be on site.

The mobile operators formed the Joint Operator Olympic Group (JOOG) to coordinate their efforts. The group used London’s 82,000 capacity Twickenham stadium as a ‘test bed’, providing an order of magnitude increase in capacity. Some 40 large flat panel arrays made by Argus provide a 50 x 50° beam width.

A so called Basestation Hotel situated was situated in the Olympic Park. From there, they feed antennas in the venue sites using radio over fibre gear. Each Olympic competition venue has separate Ethernet to each PoP, providing one of the two available options – either 1 Gbps Ethernet Access Direct (EAD), or 10 Gbps Optical. BT’s wireless network provide access to the internet for accredited users — including Olympic “rate card” customers, while secure Wi-Fi access is provided via traffic tunneling to the core network.

BT has installed about 1,000 wi-fi hotspots in the Olympic Park. The London Olympics backhaul capacity is about four times that of the Beijing Olympic Games, said BT Wi-Fi sector Chief Executive Officer Andy Baker.

BT’s Openzone and BT Fon services have been re-branded and grouped together under the new BT Wi-Fi umbrella. BT hopes that a more unified approach for their Wi-Fi hotspots will make it easier for BT customers to spot and use the 4 million hotspots dotted around the nation.

Ofcom has also licensed about 20,000 frequencies to allow broadcasters to use wireless cameras, microphones and talkback systems, wireless timing and scoring equipment and communications for Olympic officials, team members, support staff and emergency services.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Tweet-driven London Eye Lightshow, The Social Olympics, Reuter’s Robot Olympic Cameras, HTC: Olympic Torchbearer, London Olympics: 100 Days, NBC Partners with YouTube for Olympics, The 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Mobile Olympics: Better Than Anything, Producing Olympic Multi-Media, Social Olympics, 2008 Summer Olympics and 2006 Olympics Unwired, 2004 Olympics, and 2004 Olympic News Feed

Posted by Sam Churchill on Thursday, July 26th, 2012 at 1:18 pm .

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