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Freshwave Stick All Four UK Mobile Operators on One 4G Small Cell Box

Tuesday, Jul 2nd, 2024 (1:58 pm) - Score 7,800

Wireless infrastructure provider Freshwave and CommScope have jointly begun to deploy a new “world first” solution, which can bring 4G and 5G mobile (mobile broadband) connectivity from all four UK mobile network operators (Three UK, EE, Vodafone and O2) indoors via a single combined small cell box.

Small cells are akin to mini shoebox sized mobile base stations, which have been designed to deliver limited coverage (usually up to around 80-120 metres) and thus tend to be more focused on busy urban areas and specific sites. As a result, it’s not uncommon to find these sitting on top of lampposts, CCTV poles or old payphone boxes etc. But the same sort of approach can also be adapted to help cater for indoor mobile coverage too.

Freshwave itself typically specialises in building indoor multi-operator neutral host and distributed antenna system (DAS) networks, which are mainly funded by enterprise. In this approach, the company deploys the upfront capital expenditure to install the in-building system (sometimes with the customer making an upfront capital contribution), and then charges a monthly managed service fee which provides the bulk of the capital investment recovery.

However, installing this for multiple operators can add costs and complications, which is where Freshwave’s new Omni Network – based on CommScope’s ONECELL solution – comes into play. The system combines services from O2, Vodafone, Three UK and EE into one box, which is then configured and controlled by engineers via Freshwave’s data centre.

The benefits of this are that you need less equipment, cabling and installation. This makes it faster and cheaper to deploy (i.e. it’s up to 65% cheaper than legacy DAS approaches), while also using up to 60% less energy. In addition, each access point can provide up to 25% more coverage compared to a traditional small cell and 32% more than a low power DAS. The system needs a maximum of four units in a rack, freeing up space in the comms room for other uses.

Simon Frumkin, Freshwave’s CEO, said:

“Omni Network extends in-building mobile connectivity to a wider range of organisations than ever before thanks to our team’s technical innovation. As the only company in the UK able to offer Omni Network, we’re looking forward to the benefits it will bring to our customers across the public and private sector. We’re grateful to all the UK mobile operators for their collaboration which made Omni Network possible.”

All four of the UK’s major mobile operators have welcomed the development, which is now being “rolled out” to various Freshwave customer sites across the UK. Freshwave can also provide customers with additional network statistics and visibility of what’s happening on the mobile network in their building (i.e. traffic volume, number of users and calls, data upload and download etc.).

The system is currently best suited for sites from 6,000 sq ft upwards and can scale to buildings of 350,000 sq ft or more.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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7 Responses
  1. Avatar photo GF says:

    This isn’t a world first. In fact a UK based company has already done this and is actively doing this. ISPreview have written an article about it previously.

  2. Avatar photo Jackster says:

    There really needs to be a solution from the operators to give this equipment out to none enterprise customers.
    I would be happy to host one of these on my business park site where no one gets good signal in return for the box being free.

    Having some signal in return for the cost of electricity and some bandwidth is fair.
    But I’m not going to pay for the privilege on top of being charged for the call..

    1. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      If you’re a customer of any real importance then you would already be offered some kind of solution – eg a company with a fleet mobile contract will almost certainly be able to insist that their chosen MNO installs a DAS, one or more femtocells or whatever’s needed.

      Remember that a femtocell is a tiny bit of the overall network. Of course you should have to pay for the call or data usage, you’re still using the rest of the operator’s network infrastructure.

  3. Avatar photo Just a thought says:

    Now if they could only make them a bit bigger and more powerful and stick them on top of a tower in rural areas…….

  4. Avatar photo eepp says:

    Great idea.

    So necessary in modern office buildings with highly efficient triple glazing that work as Faraday cages.

    Takes pressure off WiFi calling which struggles on busy days.

  5. Avatar photo GF says:

    Jackster. Contact wavemobile.net

    A number of not spots have been covered free of charge to the businesses. A power an Internet host would always help.

    Coverage is upto 2km. With all 4 operators.

  6. Avatar photo Gavin says:

    My work has WiFi through the depo, so you can use it for calls with Wifi calling, or any other app like Watts app. It can also be used for all the handhelds that pickers, loaders are using. So really can see the point.

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