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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Peter Silva, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Greg Wind

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Leeds Council, Virgin Media Business, Siklu Provide WiFi Coverage for Tour de France Grand Départ

On July 5, hundreds of thousands of fans and spectators poured into Leeds, the third largest city in the UK, to witness the Grand Départ of the 2014 Tour de France. Leeds Council chose Virgin Media Business to provide free high-speed WiFi coverage in the city centre. To ensure the most reliable and fast connection to the Internet, Virgin Media Business selected Siklu’s tiny Gigabit 60GHz radio for backhaul.

The Grand Départ of the 101st Tour de France, visiting Yorkshire for the first time, attracted an estimated 230,000 people to the Leeds city centre, and took months to prepare to ensure its success. Part of this was providing Internet connectivity for the crowds who visited and shared this once-in-a-lifetime experience via social media.

The challenge fell to Virgin Media Business, which was awarded a concession by Leeds City Council in 2012 for access to street furniture to provide public WiFi and to boost mobile data services in locations across the city. In preparation for the Tour de France event, Virgin Media Business boosted its WiFi coverage to prepare for the expected enormous number of simultaneous Internet sessions.

Many of these WiFi hotspots connected directly to the fibre backhaul, but others needed wireless backhaul. Following a trial of several months, Virgin Media Business selected Siklu’s EtherHaul-600T – a tiny, unobtrusive radio providing gigabit throughput. These were deployed by the Leeds City Council lighting contractor along major streets in Leeds, on different types of lighting poles.

The Tour de France is the third largest sporting event in the world. It was absolutely vital to provide reliable high-speed Internet connections for the thousands who lined the city centre streets for the launch. Moreover, The Headrow is the principal shopping street, and houses the top cultural buildings and period architecture. Therefore, it was equally vital to ensure any equipment deployed in the street blended in inconspicuously.

Bruce Girdlestone, Senior Business Development Manager, Virgin Media Business, said: “This has been a fantastic collaboration between a number of different parties to bring reliable, high-speed mobile connectivity to the thousands of people who enjoyed this once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

“It’s a great example of the opportunities that enhanced broadband connections can bring - and not just during big sporting events like this. It’s also shown the resilience of the infrastructure in meeting the demand for higher capacity data services through smartphones and tablets.”

“This is one of the many applications for which EtherHaul is an ideal solution,” said Shahar Peleg, Director of Product Management and Marketing of Siklu. “Users constantly require even higher capacity Internet connection on the go, via both WiFi and the cellular network. Providing such capacities require street level installation, with minimum footprint, high reliability and completely automatic installation. We are delighted to have been able to provide visitors to Leeds and Tour de France, as well as their many social media friends, with a memorable and positive experience.”

About Virgin Media Business

Virgin Media Business is the largest business-to-business Virgin brand and part of the Virgin Media group, the UK’s first provider of all four broadband, TV, mobile phone and home phone services. The division prides itself on delivering innovative, high quality solutions that break down the barriers facing UK organizations today. Organizations working with Virgin Media Business include Knight Frank, Telefonica, London Grid for Learning, Hampshire Fire and Rescue and Cambridge County Council. Virgin Media is a part of Liberty Global plc, the world’s largest international cable company. Together Virgin Media and Liberty Global serve 25 million customers across 14 countries, helping connect people to the digital world and enabling them to discover and experience its endless possibilities. To see analysis on the current issues surrounding business-to-business telecoms please visit our blog or get involved at http://twitter.com/vmbusiness.

About Siklu

Siklu builds gigabit millimeter-wave wireless backhaul solutions over the 70/80 GHz E-band and 60 GHz V-band. Based on a unique all-silicon design that reduces price, minimizes the form factor, and increases reliability, Siklu's radios are ideal for macro and small cell backhaul. Leveraging this state-of-the-art all-silicon radio technology, Siklu developed the EtherHaul-600T, a palm-sized all-outdoor small cell backhaul product that allows rapid deployment anywhere, including street lamps, rooftops, and the sides of buildings. Representing a crucial advance for mass deployment of small cells, the integrated, all-silicon Siklu approach brings down costs to a fraction of other millimeter wave solutions. Siklu's field-proven technology is becoming the top choice of Tier 1 operators for gigabit backhaul worldwide, and thousands of units have been deployed and are operating reliably in all weather conditions.

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