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Virgin Media Business partnered with vendor Siklu for a small cell trial in Leeds, which is the third-largest city in the United Kingdom.

To showcase the ease of the installs, Siklu’s radios were installed on various types of light poles by technicians that didn’t have any telecommunications experience. Siklu’s EtherHaul-600T backhaul radios align themselves automatically, which cut the install times down to 15 minutes or less. Siklu said its gear has been “working flawlessly since the installation.”

The small cell deployment was the result of Virgin Media Business being awarded a concession by the Leeds City Council in 2012, which gave it 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 Synchronous Ethernet (SyncE) fiber backhaul to mobile operators for small cell network deployments.

“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.

“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 authorized access to the street poles, with no telco background needed, and it provides enough capacity for the complex topologies needed in street level installations."

In the United States the lighting of cell towers for backhaul has matured for most cable operators. While cable operators are still working on interconnecting cell towers with redundant fiber rings, small cell deployments are expected to take on added importance for cable operators such as Cox Communcations, Time Warner Cable and Comcast. 

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