Mobile network operator Three UK has partnered with connectivity infrastructure-as-a-service provider Freshwave on the operator’s first deployments of the Neutral Host In-Building mobile specification. After successful pilots at two of flexible office provider Workspace’s properties in London, and at a multinational firm’s UK headquarters in the capital, the approach has now been adopted by Three UK for their 4G indoor connectivity.
Eighty per cent of mobile calls originate indoors, but modern building materials, such as energy-efficient glass, make it harder for the outdoor macro signal to penetrate inside. This leaves many buildings as mobile signal dead zones, which can reduce business productivity and increase frustration. In-building small cell systems bring network indoors with guaranteed quality of service and without placing extra pressure on the outdoor macro.
The Joint Operator Technical Specifications (JOTS) Neutral Host In-Building (NHIB) specification is a recent and world-leading innovation in the telecoms sector. It’s an agreed technical standard for connecting shared in-building radio solutions based on 4G small cell technologies. All four of the UK’s mobile network operators participated in creating the specification and it reduces the complexity around a neutral host providing indoor mobile coverage to businesses. By adhering to the JOTS NHIB specification, a third party, or “neutral host” can provide mobile services to businesses on behalf of one or more of the operators. The neutral host can enable this connectivity using their own choice of vendors and equipment.
Iain Milligan, Chief Network Officer at Three UK, said: “We are investing more than ever in enhancing connectivity and coverage, and already have the UK’s Fastest 5G Network, according to Ookla. Indoor focus has been a major priority of ours with the acquisition of additional low frequency spectrum in 2020 and our agreement with Freshwave will further enhance indoor coverage, particularly for business customers.”
Tom Bennett, CTO at Freshwave, said: “This is another step forward in making assured indoor mobile connectivity easier for businesses to access around the UK and we’re pleased to have worked with Three UK on this world-leading approach. We’re excited that Three UK is now also using the specification and that Freshwave is the first company to be the neutral host for multiple operators on the NHIB specification.”
Chris Boultwood, Head of Technology at Workspace, said: “I’m proud that Workspace provides premium spaces for our customers and that we have the premium mobile connectivity they want and need. Freshwave have been our mobile connectivity partner for many years now and ensure that we remain up to date with the changing technologies available.”