Can You Blanket Germany with 10.000 LTE Base Stations?

Teltarif recently reported that one of the mobile network operators in Germany has pledged that they will blanket Germany with LTE by 2015 by using 10.000 LTE base stations. I wonder if that number is correct, however, as according to their Wikipedia entry they currently have 20.000 GSM base stations and 13.000 UMTS station to cover the nation. So either the wrong number of base stations has been reported, somebody is delusional or it's a marketing gag!? 2015 is not far away so we'll see soon.

3 thoughts on “Can You Blanket Germany with 10.000 LTE Base Stations?”

  1. Assuming the rollout is for coverage only, and not for capacity, I don’t see why not – large numbers of base stations are only needed to provide capacity.

    10.000 base stations mean that each cell covers an area of 35,7km^2, meaning a radius of 3- 4 km (or separation 6 – 8 km).

    In a rural environment this seems too dense (800MHz LTE can cover some suprising distances!), so there will be a greater density in urban regions.

    Once the initial coverage layer starts to become congested, expect huge numbers of 2.6GHz LTE sites to spring up in urban areas.

  2. Hi Mark,

    your points are valid of course but I am not as optimistic. Germany is not a flat country and despite the good propagation of 800 MHz signals even a slight hill or bump will effectively shield a signal. Also, downlink coverage is less of a problem compared to uplink issues due to the less than optimized antenna in the mobile and the low transmission power. Often the link budget in uplink is the critical path. GSM is also used in the 900 MHz band so propagation characteristics are similar as those of LTE. And still you need 20.000 of them to have really “blanket” coverage (and I mean really good blanket coverage). So we’ll see.

    Cheers, Martin

  3. There is always the old definition issue – do they really mean “number of sectors/cells” = 10K, or are they stating physical numbers of base stations, and number of sectors is then something like 20K – 30K?

    It would actually be interesting to compare Vodafone’s projected figures with the number of base stations needed to provide the initial GSM900 coverage in the 1990s – e.g. say full coverage achieved in 1997/1998, but the real boom in customer numbers (and thus then capacity, rather than coverage needed) was a couple of years later.

    As quick search didn’t turn up any relevant historical figures, but maybe they are available somewhere out there!

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