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Monday, September 11, 2006

Why don't more operators report indoor coverage?

I'm just flicking through DoCoMo's latest investor presentation.

One thing I've noticed once again is how the Japanese operator reports the number of indoor FOMA 3G systems deployed. I think this is highly admirable, and points to the fact that the company views in-building coverage as "strategic" and not just something to be done on an ad-hoc basis for customers or particular locations in "special circumstances".

European and US investors should hold this up as an example of a much more useful & meaningful KPI & encourage other operators to follow suit. At present, they (and regulators) seem happy with the totally-pointless "% of population covered". As a stat, that's useless - as I've commented before, 99.9% of the population lives indoors (and uses 3G there), not outside.

To some extent, the exact nature of the indoor coverage is immaterial - picocells, distributed antennas, and so on - that's an engineering consideration based on capacity & usage projections. What matters is that 3G works where it's needed.

(On that subject.... I had problems with O2's 3G network in my part of London a week ago. Signal dropped, it didn't register my 3G SIM or hand over to 2G for some reason. So I switched my phone to 2G-only mode to see if that would work. Only remembered 4 days later, because I was surprised the battery life seemed to have doubled. I don't use videotelephony, and I have another device for email/web... so I've left it on 2G permanently now).

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