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Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Bruges, Citymesh — the fourth-largest telecommunications operator in Belgium — is a pioneer in smart communications and data platforms, specializing in the development and management of large-scale private wireless networks based on a wide range of technologies, including Wi-Fi, the Internet of Things (IoT), 4G, and now 5G.
Founded with the ambitious goal to roll out Wi-Fi networks in every Belgian city, Citymesh soon discovered that most cities weren't ready for this scope of digitalization, so the company began more modestly, deploying Wi-Fi networks across smaller areas instead, notably Belgium's popular campsites.
And as Citymesh grew, digitalization did too, allowing it to return to its original aim, providing Wi-Fi networks for whole cities, theme parks, retail areas, and schools.
Today, Citymesh holds 4G and 5G licenses — enabling it to offer “4G-now, 5G-next” networks, ready to support the fourth industrial revolution — and is a fixture in Belgium's Business-to-Business (B2B) market, providing not only premium Wi-Fi connections but also network management and services for domains, including government offices, enterprise campuses, marinas, and campsites.
Indeed, Citymesh offers extensive End to End (E2E) expertise, from initial planning to installation and the maintenance of large-scale, complex, and high-density Wi-Fi networks. Its goal is to help alleviate customer concerns that are inherent in offering Wi-Fi networks, and to enable enterprise customers to be flexible with their end customers, all while providing a smooth and efficient service.
With demand for custom solutions increasing, Citymesh now intends to make this its renewed focus, proactively providing enterprise customers with innovative, future-oriented solutions based on the latest technologies, rather than merely solving preexisting problems.
So Citymesh's role has changed. In the past, with customer requirements clear, as an integrator, it simply provided the right resources and applied its team’s experience and expertise. Now, it is more common for enterprise customers to turn to integrators for a far deeper level of knowledge.
And of course, any integrator must stay up-to-date with the latest technology and learn from leading tech companies and vendors, such as Huawei. Supplementary to its responsibilities as an integrator, Citymesh has therefore taken on additional duties — planning projects at the top level, innovating business models, and performing subsequent operations management — and it has shifted more toward an operator role.
In an always-on, always-connected world, more and more customers require stable Wi-Fi connections. Along with an increasing demand for bandwidth, there is also greater need for customized Wi-Fi extension services, bringing further new challenges to each layer of Citymesh's business.
One of the biggest challenges Citymesh has faced is the comprehensive management of devices and systems. Citymesh previously purchased diverse Wi-Fi networking devices from different vendors, for both indoor and outdoor settings, including Access Points (APs), switches, firewalls, and management systems. But multiple independent platforms meant that Operations and Maintenance (O&M) was difficult. In short, Citymesh wanted to find a unified management system.
Technological evolution was also a major challenge. With the rapid development of cloud, big data, IoT, and mobility, ICT systems need to be built as future-proof, with flexible architecture and a high degree of adaptability built in, in order to allow them to respond to new requirements as they appear. To achieve sustainable development, Citymesh required a vendor that could provide cutting-edge industry solutions and tick all of these boxes as well.
Uptime of Information Communications Technology (ICT) systems is crucial, so it’s imperative that enterprises can rely on the stability and quality of their servers, networking equipment, and end-user hardware. Huawei has a proven record of accomplishment here and is a leader in terms of new technologies, so it stood out as an appealing choice for Citymesh to work with.
Since the collaboration began, communication with Huawei’s marketing team has been extremely smooth, with engineers, account managers, and the channel manager alike all having an “always-on” mentality, given that they are accessible 18 hours each day, providing crucial support.
Huawei offers both low-end and high-end solutions. With a full product portfolio and complete solutions, including some new solutions still in the test phase, Huawei has managed to meet every need of Citymesh and its end-customers. Given Huawei’s in-depth business knowledge and its willingness to work with Citymesh and end-customers, Citymesh is now able to offer unique and profitable solutions.
With one-stop network management and industry-leading cloud management architecture, the Huawei CloudCampus Solution helps Citymesh build better networks. Key components include iMaster Network Cloud Engine (NCE), AirEngine series APs (802.11ax, Wi-Fi 6), CloudEngine series switches, HiSecEngine series firewalls, and the campus network analyzer CampusInsight.
By integrating big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) technologies, the solution offers automation and intelligent O&M for campus networks, delivering high-quality wired and wireless services. It also enables automatic service provisioning, intelligent experience assurance, and increased security protection, drastically cutting Operating Expenditure (OPEX).
And in terms of optical fiber resources, Huawei provides its Passive Optical LAN (POL) solution, breaking through the limitations of mediums.
When planning its own network to connect head office with branch offices, a high-performance Software-Defined Wide-Area Network (SD-WAN) — offering an optimal experience, flexible networking, and simplified O&M — was Citymesh's preferred choice. With this solution in place, Citymesh’s WANs can adapt as business needs change, and the company can overcome any rapid increase in traffic volume associated with new technologies — such as cloud, AI, and 5G — eliminating the need to invest in expensive private lines.
Citymesh benefits from Huawei software, too, including the iMaster NCE controller and the CampusInsight analyzer, which are deployed in the company's own data centers. Citymesh also owns perpetual License and Subscription and Support (SnS), enabling it to resell CloudCampus licenses to more partners.
Citymesh will position itself as an operator — not an integrator — to attract more partners in different industries and regions to the CloudCampus platform. If needed, the company will also provide cloud services and training. This innovative service will help Citymesh build a thriving operation ecosystem and attract more Managed Service Providers (MSPs).
Citymesh's collaboration with Huawei guarantees its customers access to innovation, stability, security, and reliability. With the evolution path clear, lower Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) and OPEX are the result.
With Huawei’s fast response times ensuring efficiency, Citymesh can pass this on to its customers. Based on Huawei's state-of-the-art products and future-proof solutions — on the market almost a year ahead of other vendors — Citymesh can establish long-term relationships with end-customers.
Jointly developed by Citymesh and Huawei, a footfall analytics application based-on Wi-Fi signals — a value-added service to monitor the population density data of a specific region — is just one example of efficient collaboration leading to innovation. In future, the application will be upgraded to an open data platform that’s based on surveillance cameras and smart sensors.
In the long-term, Citymesh and Huawei intend to capitalize on their respective strengths and collaborate on numerous other innovative projects.
"Through the strong focus on Research and Development (R&D), Huawei manages to get products and solutions out into the market of very high quality," said Freek Pauwels, Citymesh’s Head of Sales & Marketing.
"Our customers rely on Citymesh to provide them with tailor-made solutions with high-quality products.
"Choosing Huawei as a partner makes sure that we never have to doubt the quality and resilience of the presented solution. The support of Huawei does not stop when the deal is done. We can rely on their support teams whenever needed.”
Click here to explore more industrial digital transformation stories from the Intelligent IP Pioneers webpage.
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