Turning rural notspots into hotspots using DAS

Once again this month, there has been significant media attention focused on the provision of broadband and wireless connectivity in rural areas of developed markets around the world, most notably in the UK where the authorities once again look set to intervene.

The issue of rural communications is one the telecoms industry continues to struggle to solve. Incumbent operators find provisioning high-speed, high-capacity broadband into some regions is either a logistical nightmare or isn’t cost-effective without significant Government funding. While the discussions continue, many areas are in danger of being stuck in the connectivity wilderness.

However, the absence of this fibre connectivity provides a significant opportunity for wireless technology providers to partner with companies such as Cobham Wireless to plug the gaps.

Distributed Antenna System (DAS) coverage enhancement solutions have been used by cellular operators to meet their various coverage challenges for many years and these use cases can be extended to ensure broadband provision in remote areas, without the need to build out complete underground fibre networks.

In the UK, Ofcom has recently confirmed its intent to look to repeaters and related solutions to improve access to broadband when the traditional channels continue to fail, opening the door for DAS to play a central role in broadband connectivity in poorly connected regions.

Rural Coverage

This doesn’t just apply to consumer provision with enterprises across rural Britain requiring reliable connectivity for everything from registering cattle passports, to selling specialist products and tourism.

Cobham Wireless already provides signal amplification technology to areas with more severe issues than rural Britain, including remote tropical islands and enclosed spaces such as metro systems and railway tunnels. DAS is the premier option for these environments and widescale deployment in rural areas will provide a similarly cost-effective method of ensuring 100% coverage.

Other options are limited and expensive. Installing fibre broadband to the whole of the UK, for example, is proving logistically and financially difficult, while the benefits of traditional copper cabling are severely compromised in locations too far away from exchanges to receive the speed or bandwidth capabilities required by modern applications.

Next-generation solutions such as satellite IP are effective, but often suffer from high-latency and expensive implementation costs.

DAS, however, offers an excellent value proposition and has the added advantage of enabling the complete range of communications services, including mobile voice. As we have seen in many large projects, DAS can fit into a range of business models including where stakeholders can share the cost of implementation with enterprises and other organisations to reduce OPEX.

By working with enterprises, telcos and facilities managers in these remote areas, Cobham Wireless can help completely transform coverage to these areas and in turn improve facilities for residents and business-owners alike.

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Ingo_Blog Ingo Flömer
Product Manager, Cobham Wireless

Ingo is responsible for defining the product management strategy at Cobham Wireless. He has over 20 years experience in telecommunication, wireless and fixed line and is also an Advisory Board Member for several enterprises and research projects.

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