The average BlackBerry user likely doesn’t think much about technology behind the networks that provide their daily communication fix, but it plays an important role in both the cost and coverage of their BlackBerry. The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) has published an operator case study on Finland’s Elisa network which it says shows significant cost and coverage benefits of deploying 3G services in the 900 MHz spectrum band.
According to Dr. Eetu Prieur, Head of Access Networks for Elisa, “3G coverage with UMTS900 can save 50 to 70% of our mobile network costs versus UMTS2100. And that includes both CAPEX and OPEX.”
While the majority of 3G/HSPA networks operate in the 2100 MHz band, lower frequencies provide a much larger coverage area when compared to 2100 MHz. In Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific, carriers use the 900 Mhz band, which cuts the number of cell sites needed to cover rural and suburban areas in half, providing major CAPEX and OPEX savings for 3G deployments. In North America, we rely upon the 850 MHz band, which provides the same coverage and savings benefits.
So what does this all mean? The next time you’re in a rural area reading BBCool on your BlackBerry with 3G coverage, thank low frequency bands like 850/900. Of course, because of the lack of international standardization, if you have a North American Bold, good luck getting the same coverage in, say, rural France (the Charente region is lovely this time of year). Oh well.