British Land deploys Greenfield wireless network

British Land, the property development giant has deployed a new wireless network infrastructure at a new development in London's West End that incorporates its new head office.

After the appointment of a new chief executive two years ago, it was decided the company's existing London headquarters no longer fitted with it culture of open communication and collaborative team working.

Jay Hunter, British Land group infrastructure manager told IT PRO that the company looked for a more open plan head office space, so that its staff could work more easily in a collaborative way on projects. Having benchmarked its own design for the new office development against other possible properties, it developed York House itself.

"We decided to move to our own, new open plan offices, to be as environmentally efficient and future proofed as possible" he said. "That gave me the opportunity to get involved at the design phase for the new building's IT infrastructure."

As the largest UK real estate investment trust (REIT), with total assets under management of 21.4 billion, Hunter said British Land was able to draw on its existing supplier base and best practices in scoping and designing the network for the new building.

Hunter said: "It was an excellent opportunity to get cabling installed during the build, to not just support wireless networking, but also to extend our cellular capabilities, to 3.5G or HSDPA for example, for the future."

British Land contracted wireless professional services company, Red-M to deliver a complete wireless network for the new York House, which was handed over on time and to budget in time for its opening in March this year.

Red-M carried out a site survey and audit to precisely measure the building's radio frequency (RF) propagation characteristics, establishing and locating potential sources of interference. It also assessed the building's characteristics to identify any radio, equipment or implementation issues or constraints.

It then installed a complete wireless infrastructure, with routers and access points, as well as wireless system settings such as Quality of Service, virtual local area network (VLAN), security and LAN switch configurations, to integrate the new Wi-Fi system with the existing British Land corporate IT network.

"Part of York House is residential, so we wanted to make sure we didn't throw the signal beyond our office boundaries," added Hunter.

The network has been designed to supply high quality, secure wireless data coverage in all customer and employee occupied areas to support corporate roaming data users and guest user internet access.

"Security was uppermost in our mind," Hunter said. "So we tackled it at design phase so we got the physical boundaries in place alongside the logical ones, like running wireless on a separate BT network."

He added that previous work to secure application access through a portal behind the firewall using a SSL VPN mitigated the risk involved in layering wireless access over the top. "We also make sure we regularly patch our routers and access points so they're running the most up-to-date firmware," he said.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.