Vodafone uses femtocells to extend 3G coverage

Vodafone UK is using small-cell technology--femtocells to be exact--to cheaply extend 3G services into the U.K.

The company plans to kick off 12 new trials beginning in early 2012 and build on the experience it has gained via a pilot program it has going in parts of the London area.

The news came as telecom regulator Ofcom published its "State of the Communications Nation" report that indicates geographic coverage of 3G services is concentrated in urban areas. Vodafone said the trials will enable it to test the latest version of femtocell technology that can provide 3G signals in local areas. Alcatel-Lucent is the vendor participating in the experiment.

Vodafone has been working closely with BT on ways to boost mobile coverage in East Garston, where it has a trial. This has included ensuring the right network connectivity is in place to support femtocells, as well as siting some in payphones. This will shortly be extended to trialing the mounting of femtocells on Openreach's telephone poles. Both companies are exploring options to extend the learning from East Garston to the additional 12 communities and potentially help bring improved mobile coverage to more rural areas

For the past year, Vodafone has been testing the technology behind Vodafone Sure Signal with Alcatel-Lucent to see whether it can be used to provide wider areas of local coverage that any Vodafone customer can use.

For more:
- see this release

Related articles:
Femtocells still on the sidelines, but new opportunities beckon
Informa: Free femtocell offers spurred by increased competition
Verizon to use small cells to supplement LTE

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