Ofcom Approves 3G Signal Power Boost
With mobile users in certain areas still struggling to gain access to a decent 3G signal, Ofcom is to raise the limit of 3G broadcasting power
Communication regulator Ofcom has decided to help mobile users who struggle to get a decent 3G signal, after confirming that it is looking to boost the limit on 3G broadcast power.
The announcement means that mobile operators will be able to throw out a more powerful 3G signal that should in turn provide better coverage and signal strength.
The limit is to be upped by 3dBm, from 62dBm to 65dBm – meaning operators can increase the power of their transmitters from 1.5kW to 3kW. However Ofcom was actually hoping to boost the level to 68dBm to provide some future proofing, but some operators were concerned that their network infrastructure would not be able to cope with such a large jump.
Vodafone Asks For Increase
An Ofcom spokesman, speaking to eWEEK Europe UK said that increase had been instigated by Vodafone, who had requested an increase in signal power. “Vodafone requested an increase, so we decided to grant all network operators an increase, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will all do it,” said the Ofcom spokesperson.
“We consider that this has the potential to provide benefits for customers through improved voice capacity, data throughput and in-building signal availability by making more effective use of currently available base station technology,” said Ofcom in a statement. “We believe that in practice this will have no adverse effect on the operation of services in adjacent spectrum bands.”
It is clear then that the thinking behind the idea is to help mobile operators better cope with the strain being placed on their networks, by the increasing use of smartphones.
Indeed, networks are increasingly feeling the data strain, as evidenced by the network failures of O2 last Christmas, for which the operator had to make a public apology. Analyst firm Informa warned in October 2009 that mobile data traffic is set to increase 25 fold by 2012, and said that mobile operators needed to take action in order to prevent imminent data traffic jams.
And matters are only going to get worse, with mobile users already struggling to get a decent 3G signal indoors, which has led Vodafone for example to offer its customers a femtocell that will provide a strong indoor 3G signal.
And last month Orange launched its HD voice service for its users (both business and consumer) that will deliver “crystal clear” conversations on the move and in noisy environments.
But are there any health concerns about increasing the broadcast power of mobile phone base stations?
“The emissions will still be signficantly below European standards, by a long margin” said the Ofcom spokesperson, speaking to eWEEK Europe UK.
“The consultation also drew a number of responses from individuals and groups concerned about the potential impact of base station transmissions on health and the environment,” said Ofcom. “In its response, the Health Protection Agency noted that the levels of emissions measured in the vicinity of base stations are generally several orders of magnitude below the level set and recognised internationally as a safe limit for human exposure and the increase in permitted maximum power by 3dB (a doubling) will not significantly change that position.”