CommScope and WIG Transform 5G Coverage in Major UK City

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CommScope and Wireless Infrastructure Group (WIG) have completed one of the UK’s first large-scale neutral-host centralised radio access network (C-RAN) deployments, supporting small-cell and 5G networks, transforming mobile connectivity for residents, businesses and visitors in Birmingham, UK.

CommScope collaborated with WIG, utilising key positioned streetscape assets to create a scalable and sustainable multi-operator, multi-technology mobile network. To meet the stringent demands of connected vehicles, the network had to be a highly engineered infrastructure, including the installation of 36 CommScope Hercules Cabinets and Antenna Kits across the city, from Birmingham International Airport to the city centre.

In addition to enabling the digital transformation of Birmingham with high-capacity 4G and 5G mobile services, the new infrastructure also underpins the city’s desire to demonstrate the potential of critical technologies supporting connected vehicles and paving the way towards more sustainable forms of transport.

“This is a significant milestone for the UK, a major city-wide infrastructure project that really puts Birmingham at the forefront of wireless connectivity—not only in the UK, but internationally,” stated Colin Bryce, vice president, sales Europe, CommScope. “Being part of this innovative C-RAN project was exciting for everyone at CommScope. It was not an easy challenge to complete, but visualising the outcome was a key driver for everyone connected to the project.”

WIG’s design employs high-quality scalable C-RAN infrastructure that enables additional mobile capacity as demand grows. The network is already managing high 5G throughput, with service levels exceeding 1 Gbps and low signal-to-noise ratio. Some of the first users to benefit from the new C-RAN were spectators at last year’s Commonwealth Games, a major international multi-sport tournament which was held across the country’s second city.

The C-RAN was delivered as part of the Midlands Future Mobility initiative, the Centre for Connected Autonomous Vehicles and Innovate UK, in partnership with Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Combined Authority, who partnered with WIG to support the city’s ambitious socio-economic vision. The successful installation, with the help of CommScope, is one of Europe’s largest metro deployments, spanning 20kms of connected road networks.

“For Birmingham, we designed a network that employs our own fibre backbone across the city and builds on our groundbreaking experience of deploying C-RAN architecture in Aberdeen,” stated Richard Grimes, commercial director, WIG. “The project would not have been possible without our close partnership with Birmingham City Council, which enabled us to connect tens of thousands of streetscape assets to deliver high-quality, future-proof mobile connectivity for residents and businesses. This is one of many investments we are making across the UK to help the mobile operators deliver 5G capabilities in dense urban areas with high demand. It is encouraging to see other neutral hosts utilising our Aberdeen and Birmingham projects as the blueprint for best practice in urban small cell deployments”.

The project has been recognised at the Small Cell Forum Awards for two years in a row; CommScope’s Lianne East was presented with the Women in Wireless award in 2023, and in 2022, WIG won the ‘Excellence in Commercial Deployment by Neutral Host’ award.

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