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December 07, 2011

Personal Masts Could Improve At-Home Wi-Fi Signals, Wireless Speeds

With fast Internet a potential high earner for telecom companies, U.K. mobile and cable operators are hoping to offer customers their own personal mobile phone signals the size of a paperback book in order to improve the speed of wireless networks.

According to a recent report from the U.K.’s Guardian, cable operator Virgin Media wants to offer customers a personal mobile phone signal because the wireless network relied on by PCs has become overloaded.

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

Traditional mobile operators such as Vodafone and O2 are also hoping to get a piece of the 4G high-speed mobile Internet spectrum, which will be auctioned by the government next year. Other landline companies, including BT, are considering bidding, according to the report.

The government’s delayed auction of 4G spectrum, which will deliver the faster Internet speeds and network capacity needed to turn mobile phones into computers-on-the-move for millions more Britons, could raise more than pounds 3bn.

Several of the bidders that took part in recent German and Italian auctions are fighting for U.K. airspace. They are Telefonica, which owns O2, Vodafone, and Everything Everywhere, the U.K. joint venture between Orange and T-Mobile.

BT is 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.

“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 fiber network is filling up,” the report said.

Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and MobilityTechzone, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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