UMTS 900 Would Be Great For The Highlands

A random thought today: UMTS 900, the 3G variant running in the 900 MHz band so far mostly used for GSM is already used in a couple of countries like Finland and France to get 3G coverage to rural areas. Mobile devices for this frequency like from Nokia are also on the market already. The big difficulty with UMTS 900 is to find enough space in the narrow 900 MHz band for the 5 MHz carriers. However, I guess that is mostly an issue in cities and not so much for sparsely populated areas, like for example the Scottish highlands, where only a few GSM carriers are in active use and base stations are spaced 7 km apart or even more.

I know, the UK has so far not allowed the use of 3G in the 900 MHz band due to open market questions, but from a user's point of view I think it would be a great thing. In the mid and long term, however, I think the 900 MHz band will be opened up for other technologies, as even in cities, 3G and also LTE have/will have the big disadvantage compared to GSM of a much inferior in-house coverage. Going from a voice centric to an IP centric wireless network architecture, it seems like a natural evolution of things.

2 thoughts on “UMTS 900 Would Be Great For The Highlands”

  1. It’s interesting to note that when the analogue cellular syetem was shut off, cellular coverage actually decreased (for a while Vodafone promoted the use of the Globalstar mobile satellite system in those areas!) Then a few years later there was a work item in one of the 3GPP groups for extended range GSM. I think it used two GSM slots to account for the extra propagation delays and in theory was great for very remote areas. I always wonder what happened to that idea, and whether it had any compatibility problems. No doubt there was also a UMTS equivalent. I don’t know how the theoretical range of the various technologies compares, but the longer range 450MHz digital systems that were used in Eastern Europe were never able to be deployed in Western Europe due to other uses for 450MHz there and the market was quite small since the density of the GSM deployment was already high.

  2. Hi Dominic,

    As far as I know the double time slot feature is used today for maritime coverage. On land, especially when it is hilly the standard 32 km radius is sufficient for almost all scenarios. The plains in Australia might be different.


Comments are closed.