Feeds

Voda to plug not-spots with mini-masts in boozers

Self-configuring kit to fill mobile blackholes

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Vodafone hopes to improve coverage in 12 communities by popping small base stations into pubs, clubs and telephone boxes or nailing them to telegraph poles.

The trials will start next year and will use the internet to backhaul connections made to the femtocell boxes, thus providing mobile connectivity to any Vodafone customer. Interested communities should take the matter up with their MP, who is welcome to drop Vodafone a line.

Vodafone has tried this in the West Berkshire village of East Garston, prompted by the parish council and the local MP. That deployment has seen femtos slung into the local boozer, the village hall, social club and post office, all open to anyone with a Vodafone connection and using internet connectivity for backhauling voice and data calls.

Femtocells are clever enough to detect the existing network and pick a suitable frequency on which to operate, so can be fitted by any idiot who can push in a CAT5 cable. That makes them much cheaper to deploy, but unlike the existing domestic deployments of femtocells the operator won't be expecting users to pay for their own backhaul.

Those existing deployments are branded Sure Signal and have suffered considerable teething problems. Our own experience with the service shows it works, but cuts off every voice call within a couple of minutes, which encourages brevity even if it sometimes leaves callers with the impression that they've been left hanging. Sure Signal is better than no coverage at all, but only just.

The problem is taking streams of data coming in over the internet and slotting them into the operator's infrastructure, and (most importantly) the billing system. Any connection between the public internet and the operator's billing system is dangerous, hampered by security measures to the point of impeding reliability.

Vodafone reckons most Sure Signal boxes are working reliability, and that the second-generation boxes to be used in the trials will be even more reliable. They might also be able to take calls off the macro network when the user comes within range, something existing femtocells can't manage, but as the 12 test deployments are intended for places where there is no macro network that's not a big deal.

Femtocells put huge amounts of intelligence at the very edge of the network, making deployment cheap and thus allowing for a lot more base stations. They also make very efficient use of the radio spectrum the operator owns thanks to their limited range, so as well as providing connectivity to not-spots this is also about testing how the networks of the future might configure, and run, themselves. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS
AppleSIM 'ware to allow quick switch of carriers
Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease
Hey, c'mon Choc Factory, it's our 'right to be forgotten'
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
FCC, Google cast eye over millimetre wireless
The smaller the wave, the bigger 5G's chances of success
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.