Vodafone details new technology trials

18 Feb 2009

Having announced successful trials of HSPA+ technology at speeds of 20Mbps in Spain earlier this week, along with the launch of a test network using HSPA+ 64QAM technology in Lisbon at the beginning of February, UK mobile group Vodafone has revealed that it is carrying out trials of two other new technologies.

The company has begun trials in a number of countries where it has operations of a product designed to improve 3G signals in homes or offices with weak levels of network coverage. The technology consists of a powered booster box connected to a small antenna that amplifies existing 3G signal which is placed either indoors or outdoors, wherever the 3G signal is strongest. The booster box then enhances reception over a range of up to nine metres. Initial trials at the group’s Egyptian subsidiary, Vodafone Egypt, have reported successful improvements in both voice call reception and 3G data speed performance in locations where 3G signals had previously been too weak to offer coverage. The new technology differs from a femtocell as it strengthens an existing network signal, rather than creating a new dedicated coverage zone. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Vodafone said in March 2008 that it would trial femtocell technology, and in December that year announced a pilot femtocell scheme in Spain. The company has said it will continue to assess options for both technologies.

Vodafone has also revealed that it is trialling a new microwave technology which it hopes will quadruple its backhaul capacity in channelling voice and data traffic away from base stations as part of its Backhaul Evolution Programme. Vodafone has estimated that the upgrade from typical microwave backhaul technology to Ethernet microwave backhaul technology is capable of raising peak capacity from around 32Mbps to around 180Mbps using the same frequency range. The Ethernet-based point-to-point technology is also designed to support IP-based traffic from the radio access network by deploying an adaptive modulation technique that increases throughput and decreases latency while improving quality of service levels for customers.

United Kingdom, Vodafone Group