Facebook claims cell coverage breakthrough - Mobile World Live

Facebook claims cell coverage breakthrough

03 DEC 2020

Facebook detailed work on a prototype base station capable of covering a larger area than traditional macro sites, pitching it as a cost effective way to boost rural access.

In a blog, Facebook communications systems lead Abhishek Tiwari said SuperCell is designed to be mounted on towers up to 250 metres high and uses high-gain, narrow-sector antennas to increase “mobile data coverage range and capacity”.

Testing showed a single SuperCell can provide mobile data to an area up to 65-times larger than a traditional rural macro base station mounted on a 30-metre tower in the same environment. In trials, the system delivered two-way voice and video call traffic to a range of 38km, with data rates of up to 7.8Mb/s in the downlink and 1.2Mb/s up over 40km.

Facebook estimated each SuperCell could replace 15 to 25 traditional macrocells or “hundreds” of small cells, providing coverage to the same number of people with a 33 per cent lower total cost of ownership.

While the company doesn’t believe “there’s a silver bullet for connecting the world”, Tiwari said the system could make a substantial impact in certain rural areas, particularly sub-Saharan Africa.

He added tech giant isn’t planning to manufacture the SuperCell itself, instead hoping its trials will “provide a playbook for the telecom industry to bring the technology to market and help expand mobile coverage in rural areas in a way that is sustainable and cost-effective”.

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Diana Goovaerts

Diana is Mobile World Live's US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana came to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and CED Magazine, digital-only...

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