800 MHz mobile broadband coverage

Our report on the cost of extending an 800 MHz coverage obligation for the UK was published on 12th December by Ofcom, alongside their further consultation on the award of 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum.We extended our modeling tools specifically for the purpose to allow us to efficiently place new sites – both macrocells and small cells – on a cost-efficient basis, taking full account of terrain and the locations of users.

The full report is available here, and the wider consultation documents are here.Here’s an illustration of the operation of our model:

A demonstration of our analysis of the number of cell sites – and hence cost – of providing coverage beyond that provided by existing sites to an area of Wales, using street furniture sites to deliver a 2Mbps mobile broadband service via LTE in 2 x 10 MHz bandwidth at 800 MHz to indoor users. Watch closely to see the locations turn from red to green as they are covered. Note how the costs increase rapidly towards the end to serve small increments of extra coverage. We found that street furniture sites were more cost-effective than conventional (big tower) macrocells in this situation.

Ofcom has proposed to extend the 800 MHz coverage obligation, potentially to 98% of the UK population (indoors at 2 Mbps) via use of the Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP) infrastructure. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport simultaneously issued a consultation on how this should be specified and procured.

Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Borders, who has been vocal on the benefits of extending the  coverage obligation from the originally planned level of 95%, has welcomed the proposal.

Example of extending LTE 800 MHz coverage (2 Mbps, indoors) for mid and North Wales

Example of extending LTE 800 MHz coverage (2 Mbps, indoors) for mid and North Wales