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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Repeaters vs. femtocells Part 2

I wrote a few months ago that I was hearing renewed noises about repeaters - essentially devices that boost outdoor mobile signals for better indoor coverage. They're generally disliked by many radio-planning traditionalists, especially where they are bought and installed illicitly by individuals.

So it's interesting to see that Nextivity has signed a deal with 3 Ireland for deploying its products for improved indoor coverage.

However, scrutinising what's been written, I don't actually think that this is a case of repeaters vs. femtos - it seems much more likely that this deployment scenario is about providing 3G coverage to places in rural Ireland that don't have DSL or cable, and which therefore couldn't support fixed broadband anyway.

Not only that, but for houses in remote districts - especially if they have thick stone walls - there is clearly likely to be a problem with decent indoor coverage from the normal macro network, plus the signal attenuation would effectively reduce the overall capacity of the base station.

It will be interesting to see if the solution is also used by 3 Ireland in urban areas, where the density of users and complicated urban propagation characteristics might make the overall RF planning more complex. (I also realised I missed an announcement a month or so ago about a similar solution being used in T-Mobile Netherlands retail stores)

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