With summer travel season about to fire up in earnest, people are considering the calendar and the map alike wondering where to go. For many, camping is the getaway of choice, but going without network access for any length of time is less a treat and more a trial. Nokia (News - Alert) may have at least the start of a fix for that with its Ultra Compact Network, a secure 4G network whose components can fit in an ordinary backpack.
Nokia's Ultra Compact Network joins the company’s compact LTE solutions portfolio. It is based on small cell technology, sufficient to allow mobile broadband access within minutes of setup. It's sufficiently powerful to allow for all the major connection types, including voice and video as well as data connectivity, and can even be used as a mobile hotspot for government organizations and businesses, as well as mobile network operators (MNOs).
It can work both indoors and outdoors, and operate as either a stand-alone network or as a backhauled section of a larger network. It can use cable, satellite, or even microwave as a transmission medium, goes almost anywhere people can go with a range of a range of 75 km for up to 400 users. And, it is sufficiently small to be powered by an ordinary car inverter or a portable gas generator. The Ultra Compact Network has even been tested to be useful for outdoor operations, making it a particularly exciting choice for large gatherings like music festivals or sporting events.
Nokia's head of advanced mobile networks solutions, Thorsten Robrecht, commented “The Ultra Compact Network is an exciting addition to Nokia's end-to-end portfolio of technologies for mission- and business-critical communications. The need for rapidly deployable 4G solutions is closely linked to the explosion of video and data usage in public safety scenarios.”
While it may not be sufficiently small—or cost effective—to follow users on a camping trip or be put to use as a backup network when the home one goes down, it's a thread that really should be followed to its inevitable conclusion. With 5G access about four years off, we could be looking at the means by which there's finally enough bandwidth to go around; everyone has their own network. It might well go a long way toward wresting control out of the hands of the handful of conglomerates that largely controls Internet access in the United States, and more competition might well improve the service seen at the larger networks.
A network outage can kill an entire workday for those who don't have some kind of backup plan in mind, and it's not as easy to overcome as a power outage is. A tool like Nokia's Ultra Compact Network may not be the solution home network users need, but it might be the earliest stage of just such a solution.
Edited by Peter Bernstein