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.


 

FCC reallocates $4.5 Billion rural mobility fund

Nevada OutbackThere are still quite a few areas of the US without any cellular service, even if you ignore Alaska. The FCC has announced a major shift in how $4.5 Billion will be allocated over the next 10 years to address the issue. How will this be used and what are the new rules?

 

EE demonstrate innovative disaster recovery using small cells

EE Helikite OvalToday, UK network operator EE showcased three innovative and complementary ways to provide temporary 4G service in case of outages due to flooding, major incidents and perhaps even for planned events. Adopting a three tier approach, these solutions encompass three different types of vehicle fitted with onboard small cells: rapid response pickup trucks, hexacopters and helium-filled heli-kites. Any of these could make a huge difference by restoring communication when disaster strikes.

 

Telecom Infrastructure Project takes a different route from 5G

Telecom Infrastructure Project LogoThe TIP held its first major summit event a few weeks ago. The initial thrust is about using innovation including opensource cellular technology to bring Internet connectivity to rural and remote places throughout the world. The longer term scope could be bigger. Major multi-national businesses are fully engaged. Many of the principles of Small Cell technology and operation have been adopted. This paints a very different picture of the next steps for cellular investment than purely super high speed 5G.

 

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.

 

Rural Small Cell site visit in West Wales

Tresaith WalesEE has set itself the goal to expand geographic coverage throughout the UK. A key plank of that strategy is to install rural small cells to serve isolated communities. I visited three trial sites in Wales to understand how these systems have been installed and what impact they’ve made to the local population. Parallel Wireless who provided the equipment introduced me to local users and explained how the system worked.

 

New spectrum alone won’t solve remote coverage issues

Rural Road RainbowHaving visited the sparsely populated north of Scotland a few months ago, I saw clear evidence of poor cellular service as perceived by the local community. As with many countries, the UK suffers from limited coverage in more rural areas. Deploying new spectrum may seem to be a quick fix, and may satisfy regulators, but might not answer the whole problem.

 

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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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  • 4

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    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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