Busy city technology the solution to remote wireless coverage for 1 billion worldwide

  • Real Wireless shows how urban area small cell technology combined with satellite backhaul can be repurposed to provide rural and remote coverage
  • Use of outdoor small cells can reduce costs to affordable levels in most of the world
  • Real Wireless also launches new “Wireless for Good” initiative with Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) the first beneficiary

June 30th 2014. Cambridge, UK: Technology developed to provide capacity in busy urban environments could extend coverage into rural areas worldwide at a fraction of the usual cost. Real Wireless has found that the cost of providing coverage to 500 million people in remote areas can be reduced to affordable levels by using repurposed metrocell style technology, resulting in potential savings per person around 50% over macrocell based approaches.

Recognising the significant economic and social benefits that wireless coverage offers, Real Wireless has also announced a new initiative to support the delivery of wireless to remote and rural areas. Unveiled today at the Future of Wireless Conference, the ‘Real Wireless – Wireless for Good’ initiative consists of both funding and pro bono assistance, with Télécoms Sans Frontières the first beneficiary.

Mobile coverage has been proven to offer significant social and economic benefits, but there are disparities both around the world and within the UK. Traditional, macrocell based approaches have worked well to deliver coverage for the majority in developed nations but there are still hundreds of millions of people excluded as costs become prohibitively high. A GSMA report by Deloitte found that just a 10 per cent rise from 2G to 3G penetration increases GDP per capita growth by 0.15 percentage points.

At the conference in Cambridge, Real Wireless Director of Technology Professor Simon Saunders explained how technology developed to provide capacity in busy city centres can be repurposed to provide coverage in remote areas for a fraction of the traditional cost.

“There’s a strong international correlation between income density and mobile take-up and, where populations are clustered into villages and small towns, there’s a clear opportunity to provide cost-effective coverage with smaller cells,” said Prof. Saunders. “This is the technology that has been developed to provide capacity in busy urban areas but using it in rural or remote areas makes a lot of sense.

“Combined with a new generation of satellite technology and associated spectrum for backhaul, costs can be reduced to around one-tenth of the traditional cell cost. Our estimates suggest that such technology could then economically improve mobile service to one billion people worldwide.”

The Real Wireless – Wireless for Good Initiative has an objective of maximising the social impact of appropriate, sustainable wireless connectivity. Real Wireless will contribute targeted funds to selected initiatives that meet this objective. Alongside this it will also seek initiatives to contribute advice and expertise on a pro bono basis. To suggest projects or organisations that could benefit from this initiative, contact Real Wireless at info@realwireless.biz

About Real Wireless
Real Wireless delivers independent, informed and innovative advisory services in every aspect of wireless, from the technical to the commercial. It works with mobile operators, governments, venues, building owners and regulators to bridge technical and commercial domains to help its clients get the best from wireless. With experts in every aspect of wireless and a proven track record, Real Wireless is one of the world’s leading wireless advisory firms.

Its clients include Ofcom, Wembley Stadium, The ECB, BAA, The European Commission, major network operators and many others.

For more information visit www.realwireless.biz
Twitter: @real_wireless

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Small Cells: It’s all about the business case

At Small Cell World Summit this week, the Small Cell Forum announced Release Four. One particularly interesting part of CEO Sue Monahan’s presentation looked at the results of a recent survey into what it was that operators really want from the Forum’s Release Programme – and what documents they find the most valuable.

Carried out by Maravedis-Rethink, the research asked operators to consider what content from the Release Programme had proved the most valuable content and to provide their top three responses.

The overwhelming winner was the business case. Over half of operators surveyed are actively using the documents within their small cell business planning.

This probably won’t come as a surprise to many. For all the talk of technical challenges, offload and capacity, if there isn’t a strong commercial case for deployments then nothing will happen.

Real Wireless was commissioned to develop both the Enterprise small cell business case for Release Two and Urban small cell business case for Release Three. These are both areas which we often work on with our clients both within the wireless industry and in our work with wireless users such as cities, sports venues and transportation authorities.

In the wireless industry it’s easy to get distracted by the technology and we’ve heard of plenty of projects where things were going well until someone had to justify the commercial benefit. The work we carried out for Small Cell Forum modelled the comprehensive business case aspects, identifying the key reasons an operator would deploy small cells, the likely cost of deployment and under what circumstances it becomes profitable.

It’s this aspect that we all need to pay more attention to, as wireless becomes something that is integral to almost every location or business. Some building owners and management may ‘get’ the need for good wireless connectivity, or see the positive effect it can have on customer experience, but there are many who don’t – and even those that do may still have a difficult time justifying the expenditure. Similarly, some operators have yet to grasp the opportunities arising from widespread small cell deployments. It is for these people that proper business case analysis is a vital tool.

240,000 fans can’t be wrong: One Direction fans likely to set UK record for mobile social media

One Direction fans are expected to share a staggering number of tweets, messages and selfies from Wembley Stadium later this week, as the boyband take to Wembley Stadium for a three-night residency. With attendees expected to potentially send as many as 10,000,000 tweets during the shows, the density of mobile traffic looks set to be over one hundred times that in central London.

With 19 million Twitter followers, five million followers on Instagram and over 30 million Facebook likes, their fans are notoriously keen users of social media. 

Based on a few simple assumptions,  Real Wireless calculated that their fans could send as many as 10,000,000 tweets during the three concerts.Wembley’s 90,000 seats corresponds to a density of 1.4million phones per km2, compared to 13,200 people per km2 in Central London. However, the traffic generated by 1D’s famously connected fans will be far higher than this average, thanks to their desire to upload photos and videos of the event to social media as it happens.

Speaking at the Stadium Business Summit yesterday, Real Wireless used the gig as an example of growing concerns over wireless traffic in venues.  They drew parallels between this and the recent Superbowl, where over 3TB of cellular data was used – an increase of 800% on 2013.

Mark Keenan, Director at Real Wireless, speaking yesterday at Stadium Business Summit, cited this as an example of the traffic peaks that Stadiums need to face. Mr Keenan also gave the explosive growth in traffic at Superbowl as a warning for European venue owners and operators.

“Getting coverage at a major event has always been difficult, but it’s now even tougher as so many visitors demand excellent connectivity with ever-faster devices and more apps,” said Keenan. “Customers at venues expect to get online and are unhappy if they can’t. They want to upload to social media or watch replays on smartphones; that requires the stadium has solid plans in place. If they don’t they will complain. But beyond customer satisfaction there are opportunities for stadiums to earn revenue from new sources, to improve operational efficiency and reduce cost”

“The US is a leading indicator: their 4G adoption is ahead of ours, but as we pointed out recently 4G is growing fast in UK. One Direction will be an early indicator of this, but as 4G adoption becomes far more widespread next year the full force of this will start to be felt – venues need to have their plans in place”

Typically a single mobile base station, even in a city centre, would serve an area the size of Wembley. However, with an estimated 72% of people in the UK now owning a smartphone, venues can no longer afford to rely on mobile network coverage from outside the venue.  Spectators and visitors want to be able to upload photos, check social networks and share updates as they happen, whilst continuing to do the basics – like make calls and text. This leads to a need for specialist, carefully engineered networks.

Real Wireless has put together a guide to the business benefits of providing wireless in stadiums and venues, available to download for free here. Drawing from its expertise in working with some of the biggest stadiums and venues in the UK, the guide looks at applications from providing at-seat video to tracking visitors and security.