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Masts in homes could beat Wi-Fi signal overload
[December 06, 2011]

Masts in homes could beat Wi-Fi signal overload

(Observer (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The drive for universal mobile phone coverage has seen masts hung from every street corner and disguised as fir trees, clocks and even church windows. Now miniature versions could make their way into living rooms.

Cable operator Virgin Media wants to offer customers a personal mobile phone signal, using transceivers the size of a paperback, because the wireless network relied upon by PCs is predicted to become overloaded.

Virgin hopes to bid alongside more traditional mobile operators such as Vodafone and O2 for a chunk of the 4G high-speed mobile internet spectrum due to be auctioned by the government next year. Other landline companies, including BT, are considering bidding.

Virgin and BT have been engaged in a broadband arms race, with BT now offering internet access in some areas of up to 110 megabits per second, more than 10 times the average home connection and enough to stream video to a handful of screens simultaneously.

Fast internet is a potential high earner for telecoms companies - Virgin charges up to pounds 45 a month for a 100Mbps connection. However, the top speeds can only be guaranteed as far as the cable socket. And as the number of gadgets with an internet connection increases, with iPads joining smartphones and laptops in many homes, the Wi-Fi signal which connects them to the fibre network is filling up.

The miniature masts, known as femtocells or nanocells, would have a range of up to 100 metres and could be plugged into studies or used in offices to provide coverage at higher power.

(c) 2011 Guardian Newspapers Limited.

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