Getting a mobile phone signal in out of reach locations such as shopping centres, on tube trains and in entertainment complexes will soon become easier.
UK shopping mecca Bluewater announced today that shoppers will soon get a mobile signal wherever they are in the complex, regardless of what mobile operator they use, using a new network being installed by NTL.
NTL is installing over 10km of fibre optic cabling in the centre, connecting 36 mobile antennas throughout the mall. The network can be used by any mobile operator, the first to sign up being One 2 One.
Two of the other three mobile operators are interested in using the network, but the third, which NTL won't name, has said it's not interested because its coverage at the site is adequate.
Peter Richardson, senior analyst at Dataquest, said indoor and campus mobile networks are set to take off.
"It's a concept which we see has a big future. It makes sense to have a single provider's network to which all others can gain access," he said.
Once the phone network is installed in Bluewater, NTL will have a platform to deliver information and services direct to shoppers. For example, it could broadcast information to shoppers about special events at the centre.
A spokesman said there were no plans to offer broadcast services, but operators could choose to do so in the future.
For NTL the primary focus is extending mobile coverage to densely populated areas where there is currently no signal.
"As the move to mobile communications gathers pace, there are increasing expectations for the universal operation of mobile telephones, regardless of location," said David Ellis.
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