A rural small cell is a low power mobile phone base station designed to bring mobile phone service to small pockets of population in remote rural areas. These could be hamlets, small villages or industrial sites.

Unlike large cell towers which can transmit many tens of kilometers, the low power of rural small cells allows them to operate without a diesel generator or mains electricity. Solar and wind power, combined with batteries, can sustain these units indefinitely. The lower cost of satellite transmission makes off-grid small cells commercial viable, even in developing countries.

Rural small cells are similar to urban metrocells in that they are designed to be robust and operate in unsupervised outdoor locations. Their difference is the coverage range, typically 1-2 km, achieved through a combination of elevated antenna/mast and higher RF transmit power.

The cost of a rural small cell can be 80% less than a full size basestation, with low operating costs achieved by avoiding expensive site visits, including those to refill diesel fuel (a significant cost in remote areas).

Small cells bring the prospect of voice and data mobile service to remote areas in both developing and developed countries, previously denied due to the high cost. Many villages, homesteads and farms can now benefit from the latest smartphones and internet services throughout the globe.


 

Case Study: Rural residential smartphone voice service

CottageA technically aware friend of mine lives in a small village in rural Somerset. Cellular coverage is generally poor and unreliable indoors. His partner works from home and needs mobile service. He shared with me how he went about solving the problem and the reasoning behind his choice of solution.

 

Opensource Small Cells for the lab and unserved rural communities

OpensourceA new book just published provides a simple introduction on how to build your own GSM small cell, using freely available open source hardware and software. Aimed primarily for use in the lab or in remote/unserved rural communities, a simple GSM site can deliver voice, text and data services using standard handsets. We review the current state of open source projects and look at what's available today.

The economics of satellite backhaul are changing to enable 3G rural small cells

CottageSatellites have transformed communication in remote parts of the world. Truly remote locations, islands, ships and even aircraft are connected from anywhere on the globe running voice, video and data applications.

In the world of cellular communications, satellite has played an important role enabling mobile operators to backhaul traffic providing connectivity where other technologies can't reach. Up to now, the high cost of satellite bandwidth has largely restricted the use of satellite technology to provide backhaul for basic voice service, but recent developments in small cell infrastructure and satellite technology are making 3G and 4G data services over satellite commercially viable.

Rural Small Cells: Operator driven or Regulator mandated

Rural LandscapeMany remote and rural communities don't enjoy good cellular coverage today, both in developed and developing countries. Small cells have offered a simple solution to this problem but had relatively little take-up until recently. We track some of the recent developments in this field.

Distribution of people in sparsely populated areas favours Small Cell solutions

VillageAt this year's CW Future of Wireless conference, Simon Saunders of Real Wireless characterised the cost of servicing remote and rural areas. This is quite topical, since the Small Cell Forum is currently developing its next release on that subject. It seems that people who live in rural regions aren't quite as anti-social or equally dispersed as we city-dwellers might think. They often live in groups within villages or hamlets, providing adequate return on investment for a low cost deployment. This favours infill using pockets of coverage rather than increasing capacity through a heavy-duty macrocell approach.

What is a rural small cell?

A rural small cell is a low power mobile phone base station designed to bring mobile phone service to small pockets of population in remote rural areas. These could be hamlets, small villages or industrial sites.

Unlike large cell towers which can transmit many tens of kilometers, the low power of rural small cells allows them to operate without a diesel generator or mains electricity. Solar and wind power, combined with batteries, can sustain these units indefinitely. The lower cost of satellite transmission makes off-grid small cells commercial viable, even in developing countries.

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    Residential

    Residential

    A significant number of users continue to report poor mobile coverage in their homes. There will always be areas which are uneconomic for mobile operator to reach. They range from rural areas

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    Enterprise

    Enterprise

    The term Enterprise addresses any non-residential in-building including hotels, convention centres, transport hubs, offices, hospitals and retail outlets. It's not just intended for businesses to

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    Urban

    Urban

    Urban small cells (sometimes also named metrocells) are compact and discrete mobile phone basestations, unobstrusively located in urban areas. They can be mounted on lampposts, positioned on the

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    more

    Rural

    Rural

    A rural small cell is a low power mobile phone base station designed to bring mobile phone service to small pockets of population in remote rural areas. These could be hamlets, small villages or

    ...
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