DIY xG Mobile Networks for Underserved Regions

ICSA researchers trial a novel DIY mobile network deployment model for rural and developing regions

The importance and transformative potential of mobile Internet connectivity needs little reiteration. Yet it is out of reach of nearly 60% of the global population according to GSMA’s 2018 Mobile Economy report. As per the recent estimates from Ofcom, more than a third of UK premises do not have access to 4G services. With this backdrop and recognising the limits of the current market-driven approach to realise universal mobile Internet connectivity, Informatics researchers (Dr Mahesh Marina and his PhD student Mohamed Kassem) in collaboration with researchers at Microsoft Research Cambridge propose a novel DIY mobile network deployment model to enable and ease deployments at low cost by a new set of non-traditional operators (e.g., communities, local small-scale mobile network operators) in areas with market failure, thereby empowering them to leapfrog towards 5G through bottom-up initiatives.

The proposed model embraces some of the key 5G trends including cloudification of mobile networks, the rise in open-source platforms and the use of shared/unlicensed spectrum.

To demonstrate the feasibility of this model, a particular instance has been trialled in the village of Balquhidder, Central Scotland in April 2018 through a unique partnership between the University of Edinburgh, Microsoft Research Cambridge, the Balquhidder community and WhitespaceUK. The paper conceptualising the aforementioned deployment model and describing the trial deployment will be presented at the ACM Conference on Computing & Sustainable Societies (COMPASS’18) on 21^st June 2018. Conference link here Paper link here