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.