20 Aug 2018

Case study: The Barbican Estate

At around 68 times faster than the UK average broadband speed, PCCW Global’s fibre broadband service delivers real benefits to building owners and their residents alike

Developers, investors and landlords are looking for improved connectivity for their residents, and to provide infrastructure to enable smart building technology.

Using the latest technology, Optify from PCCW Global provides a true “full fibre” experience and is ideal for both new build or retrofit applications, delivering ultrafast speeds whilst remaining discreet and minimally disruptive to install.

The challenge

Barbican residents had previously endured slow connections with speeds of around 6 Meg. In 2014, the Corporation of London and Vision Fibre Media asked PCCW Global to design and build a fibre optic network across the entire estate. The requirement was to bring state of-the-art broadband to every resident.

The Barbican Estate became listed as a site of special architectural interest in 2001, a title usually reserved for much older buildings. The construction of the building is largely reinforced concrete, much of which forms an important part of the unique look of the complex, but does have its challenges when undertaking a retro fit.
Tight rules surround any work carried out on listed buildings and any project requires close collaboration with the local authority and English Heritage to ensure that the material structure of the building is not damaged. It was therefore imperative that the solution was sympathetically installed with the minimum of fuss.

The design that the network architects drew up was based on GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Network) technology. GPON uses optical wavelength division multiplexing (WDM), so a single fibre can be used for both downstream and upstream data. The net result is a solution that is efficient in terms of cost and time to deploy as well as the ability to install discretely in a historic building, requiring fewer cables and drilling than rival technologies.

The PCCW Global Solution

With fibre optic cabling and GPON technology deployed, PCCW Global was then able to make 1 Gigabit ultrafast broadband available to every resident on the estate. What was unique about the design of the fibre network at Barbican, however, was how far the fibre went into the property. At the Barbican, the fibre reached all the way to the back of the end user’s router in their home. This meant that as hardware improves, and bandwidths increase, there is almost no limit to the download speed achievable by the user. Today, users are able to get 1Gig speeds from their router.

In the future, without having to re-cable, causing inconvenience and damage to the property, PCCW Global can upgrade speeds across the network to 10 Gbps and beyond, by simply swapping out the GPON equipment and user’s router.

The Results

Currently, through PCCW Global, users are able to choose broadband packages with speeds ranging from 50 Meg up to 1 Gig, along with IPTV and telephony services, all delivered using GPON technology. In independent speed tests conducted by Think Broadband, the Barbican postcode frequently appears as one of the fastest speeds available in the UK.

Customer profile

The Barbican Estate, in the City of London, was built during the 1960s and 70s as part of the post-war redevelopment of the city. The development is a prominent example of British brutalist architecture, comprising of three large residential towers and thirteen blocks. In total, the estate consists of over 2,000 homes, housing around 6500 residents.

Download the case study here

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