Ofcom turns to repeaters to help solve UK indoor coverage pain

News

UK regulator Ofcom is proposing consumers and businesses self-install repeaters in a bid to improve indoor coverage.

In plans announced this morning, Ofcom said despite a number of initiatives aimed to helping improve coverage, such as coverage obligations in spectrum auctions, releasing low frequency spectrum that penetrates indoors, and providing information on which operator offers best coverage, these alone will not solve the issue entirely.

Ofcom suggested a repeater, which can be easily installed, can offer a more attractive solution than where cost, a lack of multi-operator support, complexity and lack of backhaul are prohibitive.

It said these repeaters can also provide a better service than the likes of femto or picocells, distributed antenna systems and voice over Wi-Fi.

The regulator said only 78 percent of households have the necessary fixed broadband to power other sorts of indoor coverage improvements.

Previously, however, Ofcom has found that existing repeaters used across the UK can interfere with nearby base stations. 

Several manufacturers have taken steps to lessen interference among their products but Ofcom said there was not enough evidence to conclude whether they could be used effectively.

The regulator said it wants manufacturers to submit their repeaters to it, so it can determine its effects on interference. Those that do not interfere with mobile networks could then be used on a licence exempt basis.

Earlier this week, the British Chancellor repeated his promise to help relax infrastructure planning laws and allow operators to build higher masts on sites

George Osborne also vowed to free up as much as 750MHz of public sector spectrum under 10GHz by 2022.