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London Underground could enjoy mobile phone coverage

Brit upstart says it has the technology
Thu Mar 29 2007, 13:11
LONDON'S UNDERGROUND could enjoy mobile coverage much sooner than predicted, claimed Mike Baker, CEO with Zinwave.

Both the company and the technology are British, but Zinwave is too small to get passed the LU bureaucracy, he claims.

Baker was responding to reports on the Beeb that plans to introduce cellular cover on London's Underground train network have been put back at least until mid-2009.

Instead, mobile phone coverage will be trialled at the Bank and Waterloo stations from April 2008 for six months.

The trial is will decide "whether it is technically and commercially viable for coverage to be extended across the Tube network," said LU's Richard Parry.

Below-ground sections of the Underground account for some 45 per cent of the total and London is one of the few places in the world where a mobile phone won't work on the underground system.

According to Baker, however, Zinwave's DAS (Distributed Antenna System) can make use of existing optical fibre installations and there is already such fibre in the London Underground tunnels.

Better still, power isn't too much of a problem either because Zinwave equipment can make use of regular 'power over Ethernet' equipment which is commonplace in the LAN world.

So installing the system for London Underground wouldn't be too expensive, Baker says. It's just that the whole transportation system is "process driven" and a tiny start-up like Zinwave wouldn't stand a chance.

It's not all bad news since ABI Research has predicted that by 2011, worldwide revenues for in-building wireless systems will be worth around $3.6 billion. Baker estimated that DAS style equipment will take up to $1 billion of that revenue.

A surprise boost for Zinwave may well come from China. Mike Baker reckons that an element of the 3G licences which the Chinese government intends to award will include a mandate to provide in-building coverage.

And DAS style systems are ideal for enabling operators to meet such a requirement.

Baker also believes that his products are 'IT friendly' which make them attractive to resellers in the LAN space who are looking to break into the wireless arena. µ



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