E-Plus Will Build Up, Not Out
By Eric Lin, Fri Sep 03 21:15:00 GMT 2004

KPN subsidiary E-Plus has applied for a patent on a new type of installation designed to cover a maximum amount of area for 3G service with a minimum number of sites.

Instead of having to cover an area with 3G bases littering every rooftop, Ultra High Sites (UHS) place a series of narrow antennas around a single site higher than 100 meters tall. The antennas are angled down slightly, covering the surrounding area with an umbrella of 3G reception. Like a building in Manhattan or Hong Kong, it is smarter for E-Plus to build up rather than out.

A single UHS installation can do the job of anywhere from eight to 40 base stations depending on height of the site and the density of the area being covered. E-Plus claims that UHS technology will allow it to build out just 200 base stations instead of 1500 to implement its planned coverage and will save the subsidiary 60 million Euros in capital investment by the end of 2005 alone.

Except for the antenna, E-Plus states that most of the components it has used in UHS are off-the-shelf pieces. The company has not applied for a patent on placing the sites higher, but for the changes to the antenna required for such high installations. Even if other carriers can only buy the antennas from E-Plus or licensed manufacturers at an inflated price, it could still save them a significant amount of money in site rentals. However that's only if other locales are as amenable to placing antennas on very high structures, or the carriers building those structures. Many governments around the world are increasingly weary of cellular base stations and tightening their regulation.