Technology developed to provide wireless capacity in busy urban environments could extend coverage into rural areas worldwide at a fraction of the usual cost, according to wireless advisory firm Real Wireless.
The company has found that the cost of providing coverage to 500 million people in remote areas can be reduced to affordable levels by using repurposed metrocell style technology, resulting in potential savings per person around 50% over macrocell based approaches.
Recognising the significant economic and social benefits that wireless coverage offers, Real Wireless has also announced a new initiative to support the delivery of wireless to remote and rural areas. Unveiled today at the Future of Wireless Conference in Cambridge yesterday (30 June 2014), the ‘Real Wireless - Wireless for Good’ initiative consists of both funding and pro bono assistance, with Télécoms Sans Frontières the first beneficiary.
Mobile coverage has been proven to offer significant social and economic benefits, but there are disparities both around the world and within the UK. Traditional, macrocell based approaches have worked well to deliver coverage for the majority in developed nations, but there are still hundreds of millions of people excluded as costs become prohibitively high.
A GSMA report by Deloitte found that just a 10% rise from 2G to 3G penetration increases GDP per capita growth by 0.15 percentage points.
At the conference in Cambridge, Real Wireless director of technology Professor Simon Saunders explained how technology developed to provide capacity in busy city centres can be repurposed to provide coverage in remote areas for a fraction of the traditional cost.
“There’s a strong international correlation between income density and mobile take-up and, where populations are clustered into villages and small towns, there’s a clear opportunity to provide cost-effective coverage with smaller cells,” said Prof. Saunders. “This is the technology that has been developed to provide capacity in busy urban areas, but using it in rural or remote areas makes a lot of sense.
“Combined with a new generation of satellite technology and associated spectrum for backhaul, costs can be reduced to around one-tenth of the traditional cell cost. Our estimates suggest that such technology could then economically improve mobile service to one billion people worldwide.”
The Real Wireless - Wireless for Good Initiative has an objective of maximising the social impact of appropriate, sustainable wireless connectivity. Real Wireless will contribute targeted funds to selected initiatives that meet this objective. Alongside this it will also seek initiatives to contribute advice and expertise on a pro bono basis.
To suggest projects or organisations that could benefit from this initiative, contact Real Wireless at firstname.lastname@example.org