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One stop box: New era of in-building mobile connectivity arrives with Freshwave Omni Network

Freshwave, working with network infrastructure vendor CommScope, is proud to have achieved a world first by bringing 4G connectivity from all four UK mobile network operators (MNOs) indoors via a combined small cell box.

Freshwave’s Omni Network is an industry-changing approach which currently uses CommScope’s ONECELL®. It’s being rolled out at various Freshwave customer sites across the UK and includes Freshwave’s ongoing managed service.

In-building mobile systems are needed because in many buildings the macro signal is blocked by materials such as thick concrete walls or energy efficient glass. Small cells, which connect securely into the MNOs’ networks, guarantee the quality of service, unlike some other connectivity technologies which rely on outdoor signal.

Simon Frumkin, Freshwave’s CEO, said: “Omni Network extends in-building mobile connectivity to a wider range of organisations than ever before thanks to our team’s technical innovation. As the only company in the UK able to offer Omni Network, we’re looking forward to the benefits it will bring to our customers across the public and private sector. We’re grateful to all the UK mobile operators for their collaboration which made Omni Network possible.”

With all four MNOs contained in one box which is configured and controlled by engineers via Freshwave’s data centre, Omni Network needs less equipment, cabling and corresponding installation. This means it’s faster to design and deploy and, depending on the building size, up to 65 per cent lower cost than a legacy, traditional distributed antenna system (DAS). It’s also more energy efficient, using up to 60 per cent less energy.

Each access point can provide up to 25 per cent more coverage compared to a traditional small cell and 32 per cent more than a low power DAS. Omni Network needs a maximum of four units in a rack, freeing up space in the comms room for other uses.

Stuart Holyoak, Director, DAS and Small Cell Business Development – EMEA at CommScope, said: “Neutral hosts such as Freshwave do fantastic work in expanding the accessibility of indoor coverage to a wider range of organisations. We’re thrilled to be part of the inaugural solution, a world first for small cells.”

Because Omni Network connects via agreed operator technical specifications, it allows Freshwave as the neutral host to provide customers with additional network statistics and visibility of what’s happening on the mobile network in their building. This data, which includes information such as traffic volume, number of users and calls, data upload and download, helps illustrate the value the network is delivering to the organisation. As with all Freshwave’s mobile services, Omni Network is Telecommunications (Security) Act 2021 compliant.

James Hope, Director of Mobile Radio Access Networks at EE said: “In a competitive mobile market, solutions like neutral host provide a clear benefit for sharing costs. We’re pleased to collaborate with our trusted partner Freshwave as they develop innovative solutions for connectivity.”

Soufiane Ayed, Senior RAN Strategy and Architecture Manager at Three UK, said: “Three UK aims to raise the bar for its customers. We were the first mobile network operator to commercialise the Neutral Host In-Building spec for our indoor 4G deployments last year and found Freshwave’s architecture and cutting-edge developments have had a positive impact on customer experience.”

Martin Riley, National Delivery Manager – Special Projects, Virgin Media O2, said: “We are committed to ensuring that our customers can access reliable connectivity no matter where they are. Solutions such as this one ensure that this is possible and we are thrilled to be working with Freshwave on it.”

Ker Anderson, Head of Radio and Performance at Vodafone UK, said: “Mobile connectivity brings productivity and economic benefits. At Vodafone we continually look at new and innovative solutions to help our customers connect. Freshwave share our passion for innovation and great connectivity, and we are happy to partner with Freshwave on this approach.”

Thanks to Omni Network containing all four MNOs in one box, it’s a visually appealing, vendor agnostic in-building connectivity option. It’s suited for sites from 6,000 sq ft upwards and can scale to buildings of 350,000 sq ft or more. It’s ideal for high spec environments such as premium residential or office developments and innovation-supporting settings like hospitals and research campuses.

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Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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