Pole position for M1 mobile data customers at 2016 Singapore Grand Prix

Singapore Grand Prix finish line
High-traffic hotspots don’t have more peak demand than the Singapore Grand Prix. Operator M1 Limited chose CCS’ Metnet to deliver network performance excellence at this exciting Formula 1 night race

Singapore operator M1 Limited provides mobile and fixed services to over 2 million customers.

Since the launch of commercial services in 1997, M1 Limited has achieved many firsts, including being the first operator to offer nationwide 4G service, as well as ultra-high-speed fixed broadband, fixed voice and other services on the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NGNBN).

So when it came to meeting the mobile data demands of its subscribers at the 2016 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix, M1 was looking for a highly performant solution that matched its reputation for innovation and service excellence.

CCS’ Metnet microwave backhaul system was chosen to support a small cell network deployed to serve the peak demand around the popular night race, held annually at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore and attended by nearly 220,000 Formula 1 fans over the course of the three-day event.

As the world’s only self-organising (SON) solution for wireless backhaul, the CCS Metnet system is ideally suited to dense urban environments, where additional capacity is required and regional authorities are sensitive to aesthetics and equipment footprint.

Fast-track implementation

CCS on the podium! The CCS Metnet node can be seen in the top right of the shot. Nico Rosberg won the race with Daniel Ricardo 2nd, and Lewis Hamilton 3rdCCS Metnet nodes operating at 28GHz were deployed around the 5.06km F1 track in Singapore, providing backhaul for a purpose-deployed network of Nokia Flexizone small cells featuring Carrier Aggregation.

A CCS Metnet node mounted at the top of the F1 Grandstand which was designed as a roof garden with views over the start finish straight.

The network was quickly and easily installed using local subcontractors. Time and speed of installation was critical since access was restricted to only a few days before the race. The CCS nodes and Nokia small cells were approved for installation at the Singapore GP by the organisers since the equipment met the requirements for minimal size and aesthetics. Nodes were deployed in view of the public but were sufficiently small and discreet not to generate attention.

The Metnet system for M1 operated in a single 28GHz 112MHz frequency channel. No radio frequency planning was required because the entire network operated on a frequency reuse of 1. The nodes automatically detected each other and self-organised and optimised to provide carrier class backhaul to each small cell. Each node has a wide 270-degree field of view and supports multiple connections, eliminating the need for any antenna alignment. Given the space and aesthetics requirements, the Singapore GP team appreciated that only a single radio per location was required.

Due to Metnet’s unique and highly resilient multipoint-to-multipoint architecture, LOS and NLOS links are supported automatically, dynamically reconfiguring and self-healing to optimise performance and spectral efficiency as LOS circumstances changes – efficiently handling reflections from buildings and blockages from trees and minimising interference.The CCS Metnet Element Management System (EMS) showing the live network state during the race. 5 Nodes were deployed in total which backhauled 6 Nokia Flexizone small cells.

The nodes poll the network continually and automatically determine the optimal topology to deliver capacity where needed. Each cluster runs a Spatial-TDMA transmission schedule, which allows links to operate simultaneously to increase the overall capacity delivered to each node.

Designed with LTE small-cells in mind, the Metnet system intuitively accommodates evolving traffic demands, offering low latency – minimum 40µs per hop – and high capacity. The current generation 480Mbps nodes were used in this trial. The new dual channel radio operating at 256QAM modulation provides up to 1.2 Gbps per node.

For the Singapore GP network, dual wired nodes were positioned at the Golden Mile tower, which was an existing macro site, and the Pits building. The Golden Mile leased line was limited to 200Mbps, and the Pits site was limited to 500Mbps and shared with a multi-sector macro. Dual nodes provided additional capacity for the cluster and could also be used for automatic redundancy in the case that a route or node failed. To accommodate the requirements of the small cells, bandwidth was adjusted on a per-site, per-direction basis, which was in line with the uplink and downlink ratio supported by the mobile devices.

A total network capacity of 887Mbps was delivered in the network due to the SON capability and S-TDMA scheduling in a single 112MHz channel. Each CCS Node was able to deliver sufficient capacity to support the dual small cells with carrier aggregation.

CCS engineers completed interoperability with Nokia, Cisco, and the M1 network,and the full system went live shortly before the race weekend, following extensive testing in the M1 labs with its core network and the small cells. The network provided 100% availability during the weekend, even during high rainfall in the early mornings before the circuit was open to the public. The CCS Metnet system features hitless adaptive modulation and encoding to manage fading on the radio links.

Peak performance

During the exceptional traffic peaks of the Formula 1 weekend in Singapore, Metnet delivered carrier-class small cell backhaul.

The combination of the Metnet solution with the Nokia small cell roll-out delivered faster download and upload speeds, and a superb mobile experience for M1’s customers. During the race, an intense period of downlink and uplink traffic was experience. An example was when Nico Hulkenburg crashed into the pit wall during the start of the first lap. Mobile users caught the crash on their phones and busily began uploading the photos and videos to friends and social media platforms. The activity could be seen as a steady upload stream after the race started at 20:00 local Singapore time. Traffic reduced during the race and then peaked again at the end, and then finally reduced to a normal state after the race.

CCS and M1 would like to thank the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) who arranged the use of the 28GHz spectrum during the trial.

Our customer’s experience with Metnet

"M1 is committed to delivering the best experience to customers attending the F1, where demand for mobile data is always extremely high. The powerful combination of M1’s small cell network and CCS’ industry-leading Metnet system enabled our customers to share the exhilaration of their F1 experience through social media on M1’s advanced 4G+ network.”

Mr Patrick Scodeller
Chief Operating Officer, M1

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