Installing Multi Band Mini Base Stations (MBMBS)
There is a large selection of material about Femtocells and their usefulness as a participant providing indoor coverage and how using Femtocells could be useful to cell site analysis etc. The thing is they are still some way off proving as the only solution for indoor coverage. There are other systems capable of providing indoor coverage described as multi band mini base stations (MBMBS) that are being used and, from a cost perspective, can be a highly viable alternative to operator-led Femtocells.
MBMBS do not require a fixed landline or landline operator account or e.g. an 18 months rental contract etc. The starting point is an existing SIM/USIM monthly payment subscriber account or a SIM/USIM prepaid subscriber account is required. This is needed for access to voice, data and cellular broadband.
The base station units I have been installing over the last 14 months and running tests have shown MBMBS to be versatile and can be trial tested in various locations around a premise to determine the prime location for usage of best serving coverage. Poor indoor coverage is still a major issue in urban, semi rural and rural areas that do not benefit for mature installations of masts as found in dense urban areas. Moreover, in dense urban areas coverage can be still be poor for indoor mobile communications where determination of the propability density function (pdf) for indoor coverage is rather difficult to perform and determine due to lack of ingress/egress to properties etc. MBMBS can overcomes indoor coverage issues and, additionally, provide service backup or overflow for communications or for install in short/long term locations where fixed landline access is not readily available.
The natural extension for installing and using MBMBS is in domestic residences and, thus, they naturally compete quite effectively with Femtocells. Key and germane is that MBMBS are small and compact and their size impacts on the home no more than the size of current Home Hub dimensions and can be smaller than a Home Hub.
Planning permission for an external antenna shouldn't be necessary (depending on local laws and rules etc) as the TRX antenna is smaller than a television aerial attaching to the side of a building and should not find imperfection with legality issues for use. The antenna receives its power regulated from the MBMBS unit itself. As these units should be covered by EC Declaration of Conformity to the R and TTE Directive 1999/5/EC and meet the criteria in the standards to confirm conformity to e.g. Articles 3.1a, 3.1b and 3.2 and carrying a CE Mark the actual ownership and use of the device should be lawful; depending upon the country where the device is intended for placement and use.
From the perspective of indoor radio test measurements for cell site analysis, results may be confusing if the test handset identifies readings of poor QoS coverage unlikely to be usable with a standard moble phone, thus could be misleading. Extra time for the site survey should be taken to ensure if any assisted sources are used to improve coverage reception that might be used by a target device.
In conclusion, MBMBS are not Femtocells although there are similarities where it could be easy to mistake the devices to be of the same family. MBMBS come in various guises, I have seen six designs todate from standard features to advanced features for routing calls/data and multiple SIM/USIM ports. These devices are versatile and can be easily moved from place to place; and if network unlocked this can allow various mobile network SIMs/USIMs to be easily swapped over. MBMBS provide access to GSM 2G, GPRS 2.5G, WCDMA (HSPA) 3G coverage and WiFi 802.11 coverage might be routed for transmission over the cellular network, too.