U.K. Appoints Builder Of Rural Mobile Booster Network
Government's plan to boost cell and mobile broadband coverage in "not spots" finally in motion after two-year delay.
10 Best And Worst Cellphones Of All Time
(click image for slideshow)
The British dream of eradicating "not spots" -- intermittent cell and mobile broadband coverage in rural areas -- has edged a bit closer to reality with a £150 million ($230 million) deal between the government and telco equipment supplier Arqiva.
In January 2012, the government unveiled its mobile infrastructure project (MIP), a program to plug gaps in mobile service in areas where operators haven't seen a business reason for installing infrastructure. The government had found funding for the project in October 2011.
The government Monday said it now has tapped Arqiva to deliver the program, which will cover at least 60,000 outlying sites and sections of road. Arqiva will be responsible for a full-scale mobile network rollout that encompasses network planning and site acquisition, as well as the deployment of site infrastructure and installation of all relevant signal-boosting equipment.
By improving mobile phone coverage, MIP will help "connect rural communities, create local jobs and contribute to economic growth," the government said in a statement. All four British mobile network operators will provide their services from the MIP infrastructure, "maximizing the benefits to all consumers," it said.
The original MIP schedule called for a contract to be signed in the spring of 2012 with a completion date of 2015. The completion date has been revised to 2017, with a 20-year maintenance agreement, Arqiva told InformationWeek.
Arqiva's appointment represents "great news for rural communities throughout the U.K." which stand to "benefit enormously" from the attempt to improve mobile phone coverage, said Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, who is responsible for expanding British communications infrastructure, including rural broadband, in a statement. "Good mobile connectivity is becomingly increasingly important and it is crucial that businesses and individuals are not left struggling with poor and intermittent coverage."
Nicolas Ott, Arqiva's managing director of government, mobile and enterprise, said in a statement that "MIP perfectly fits within our strategy of creating a range of platforms -- cellular, Wi-Fi and small cells -- that provide mobile connectivity to all and support a thriving digital economy in the U.K."
MIP is part of a constellation of on-going projects sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to ramp up British connectivity. Others include the £530 million ($813 million) rural broadband project and a £150 million ($230 million) "super-connected" cities program.
Arquiva provides a significant chunk of the infrastructure behind British TV, radio, satellite and wireless communications in the U.K., with customers including the BBC, ITV, satellite giant BSkyB and the U.K.'s four mobile network operators, plus some of its emergency services.
Arquiva and the government are expected to jointly announce this summer which parts of the country will be receiving the improved mobile coverage.
InformationWeek Elite 100Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
The UC Infrastructure TrapWorries about subpar networks tanking unified communications programs could be valid: Thirty-one percent of respondents have rolled capabilities out to less than 10% of users vs. 21% delivering UC to 76% or more. Is low uptake a result of strained infrastructures delivering poor performance?
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.