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back to article Ofcom gives 3G upgrade thumbs-up

Ofcom has decided to let 3G networks up their broadcast power, but only by half of what it had proposed: for the sake of 3 rather than the bees. The death of all bees was predicted by one of the more colourful respondents to Ofcom's consultation on the matter; others were concerned about signal leakage and more general health. …

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Anonymous Coward

It's not much

Although 3dB is effectively doubling the ERP of these transmitters it doesn't really account to much. I don't know how bars relate to S points, but 3dB is only half an S point in signal strength which is barely noticable.

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How do you know?

Actually, it _does_ amount to something. a 3dB increase in signal power can significantly increase the effective radius of a cell, as long as the mobile is able to match the increase in downlink power by a corresponding amount.

Also, what does "bars" measure? This is a completely subjective measure. An S-point is simply another way of saying 6dB, so this adds nothing to the discussion.

Finally (to the original author), dB is simply a relative measure, so 65dB means nothing without some units attached.

All in all, a pointless comment to a pretty useless article.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

3dB may be half an S-point....

....but with digital demodulation in mobile phone systems it would make a huge difference to bit error rates and hence coverage. These systems do not behave like analogue radios do.

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Units corrected

The units have been corrected after I emailed Bill to raise the issue. It would appear the original source material from Ofcom did not clearly state the units either; but then they think PLT does not pollute the radio spectrum, so what do you expect?!

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Depends on what you consider 'not much'

Looking at pure coverage (the main problem with current 3G networks), 3dB is equal to about a 20% increase in downlink cell range for a given performance point, or 44% increase in cell area if you prefer. That's a 31% reduction in the number of cell sites required to cover a given area.

If you consider that Orange and T-mobile had about 12000 GSM1800 sites each (pre-EE) to cover the UK, and 3G is operating at 2100 MHz, 31% is about 4340 fewer sites for ~95% population coverage*. If you take an arbitrary build cost of £100k per site (new site, rather than re-using a 2G site) that's saving an operator about £434 million just on build costs. Re-using 2G sites reduces the cost by 50%, say, taking us down to say £217 million savings on roll-out costs.

Then you have to consider the operational costs per site per year, say £10-20k per site per year. For 4000 odd sites, that's £40-80 million per year.

So the operators could each save a conservative estimate of £400 million over 5 years (double that at the top end estimate). That might even be enough to convince them to roll 3G out into (some) rural areas.

Want to tell me your definition of 'not much'?

>

>

*Of course, this only considers 3G voice services. High rate data needs a much higher density of sites, so the 3dB increase in EIRP saves a lot more sites.

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Anonymous Coward

Two way radio system

Your calculations miss (at least) two important points-

1/ Presumably you want a two way converstaion or data flow. For your calculations to be true, this 3dB increase in downlink power would need to be matched by a 3dB increase in sensitivity of the base station's receivers, or a 3dB increase in transmit powers in the mobile device. Most current devices struggle to get anywhere near the +21 db that they should be transmitting, so the limiting factor to number of base stations, operating cost etc will remain the mobile device.

2/ GSM will remain as the dominant technology for voice for a long long time. So even if your calculations were right, they couldn't take the masts down because they need them for GSM.

The most useful use for this 3dB will be to prevent a reduction in power that otherwise would have been necessary when they bring in MIMO. MIMO will bring a bit more capacity and even higher peak rates for the marketeers to get excited about with their "upto xyz Meg" claims.

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Two way indeed

1. Your assumption seems to be that 3G is uplink limited. That could be the case for some sites, but you are forgetting that the downlink TX power is distributed across all user, while the entire UE power is used for one user. If you consider a) the EIRP limit is a hard limit and margins for BTS power variation and feeder cable loss variation reduce the nominal allowed TX power (by around 3 dB), b) the UE sensitivity is much worse that a BTS (which has diversity receivers), and c) a single cell-carrier can serve maybe 80 simultaneous voice users (i.e. per user power could be 19 dB below total power), then your implied assertion of uplink limitation is weak.

But that point is really moot. If the EIRP is increased by increasing the antenna gain by 3 dB, then both the uplink and downlink improve and the cell size increases by around 20%.

Also, data flows are normally asymmetric, even in these days of uploading videos to YouTube, and more power is needed per user to support the higher data rates on the downlink, again going against the implication of uplink limitation.

2. I wasn't suggesting removing 2G sites. I was talking about the cost of putting 3G onto existing 2G sites and the increased costs of running that site. Please read more carefully.

Your point about MIMO is interesting. I haven't heard if OFCOM ruled whether the EIRP limit applied to each antenna or each sector. With the former, there is no need to reduce the TX power per antenna with MIMO (except for operational reasons in a capacity limited cluster); with the latter, you are right that they would now be able to increase the useful range for MIMO by utilising the extra 3dB.

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passing the buck

So, just to be clear, Ofcom... who are supposed to manage the spectrum and know all about it, are passing the buck re the potential issue with the bees to a bunch of Agri-scientists who are probably very smart and kow all about their field but are not really expects on the black arts of electromagentism and non-ionizing radiation to actually make sure that rubber stamping this power increase isn't going to make the current area of concern for apiarists into a crisis for the whole country.

While no-one knows what the cause of the problem is, you can help out at http://www.adoptabeehive.co.uk/

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Dead Vulture

bugger it were all F$$Ked then

the NCIRB/whatever-brigade of (in the pockets of big nuclear industry(which has nowt to do with RF industy, move along, move along) regulators dont give a hoot or a buzz about any effects that thier death ray towers will have on anyone or anything, just as long as they get full bars on their Crackberrys, except when they are off duty and are at home in the cotswolds (cant be ruining the scenery with ugly towers now can we)

anyone seen what RF bursts can do to the bees yet?, no, i mean it ! have you actually seen them being zapped out of the air, not a pretty death for the bees and yet another nail in the coffin for the human race (one carcinoma at a time.)

oh and it aint the human race anymore, more like a stampede of greedy deranged humans heading for the EXIT (ie. extinction)

whats next... handing out cianide pills to kiddies and production of Soylent Green ???

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Coat

Re: bugger it were all F$$Ked then

"anyone seen what RF bursts can do to the bees yet?"

No. Are they resonant at 2100MHz? If so, they're doing better than the iPhone 4...

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Bronze badge

But what about wasps? More research is needed

I don't think that bees are doing unusually well on Scottish and Welsh mountains, and Whitby, where a mobile phone signal is often difficult to get, and therefore, presumably, is not there to upset the bees.

But they aren't doing particularly badly, there, either.

And what of the "Mosquito" ring tone, which is pitched too high for humans to hear, but teenagers can? Does that harm bees? We need to know.

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Three?

How would the increase have affected the Three network? The article didn't delve into any detail and I can't work out why Three was opposed to the extra power.

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Paris Hilton

Think of the Beees!

Why Won't anyone think of the Bees. I for one welcome our 0.5 S Point tower overlords. Mine's the one with the Tin Hat. Paris, because she knows how to double power........

I've run out of Reg cliches now, sorry!

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Joke

Much more importantly...

...Will Sarah and her family be okay?

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Troll

Wicker Man 2006

KILLING 3G WON'T BRING BACK YOUR GOD DAMNED HONEY!!!!1!!!111

1:36 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6i2WRreARo

Best.

Movie.

Ebar!

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Joke

Frying Tonight

My friend who lives near a mobile mast reminded me of that old film "Carry On Screaming" where Kenneth Williams says in a fiendish voice "Frying Tonight!"

I knew he'd need his tinfoil hat again.

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Anonymous Coward

To borrow a phrase from Mr. Upton Sinclair:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

I realize that this is a site that created and maintained primarily for the benefit those who work in the communications industry, and that any suggestion that wireless technology is harmful, no matter how well-supported it may be, is therefore extremely likely to be met with derision and mockery by this community. The fact that wireless technology can alter the biology of living systems at the power levels it is typically operated at is difficult to accept even for those of us who don't work in the industry. I can only imagine the kinds of psychological barriers that prevent those who do from objectively considering new information on this topic.

However, I would nonetheless like to point out that there is sound evidence supporting such a claim. Much of it is summarized at:

wireless-precaution.com

It should also be pointed out that the idea of RF causing biological effects, even at subthermal power levels (i.e. below those necessary to heat tissue), is not new. Sound supporting evidence has been around for decades. See the following review (from 1972) for details:

http://www.magdahavas.com/2010/07/05/pick-of-the-week-1-more-than-2000-documents-prior-to-1972-on-bioeffects-of-radio-frequency-radiation/

International “safety standards” on RF-which only consider thermal effects-reflect the extent to which the wireless industry has been successful at regulatory capture. The ICNIRP standards are not based on an objective review of available data, and their main function is to provide legal and public-relations cover for the telecommunciations industry.

I don’t expect very many of the people reading this comment to be able to comprehend such a statement. I will be a bit surprised if this even gets posted. Nonetheless, the fact remains that every major living system on our small planet is in decline, and that wireless technology is, along with greenhouse gas emissions, chemical pollution, and overpopulation, an important contributing factor. Biology is resilient, but not, perhaps, as resilient as our species is arrogant.

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