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BT develops 15cm mobile mast alternative for UK cities

'Street furniture' transmitters will improve reception...
Written by Andy McCue, Contributor

'Street furniture' transmitters will improve reception...

BT is set to install 'low-powered' transmitters on street signs, lamp-posts and CCTV poles in UK cities with a view to reducing the number of new masts needed to combat reception 'blackspots' caused by high buildings and other obstacles.

Chester is the first city to agree to use the tiny transmitters, which will be fixed at least four metres above the ground in 'street furniture'. BT said the city was chosen at the specific request of several mobile operators who wanted to improve reception in the area.

BT said it plans to roll out the Microconnect DA system to other cities across the UK and that it will also boost network capacity for new bandwidth-hogging 3G services.

A spokesman for Chester City Council said erecting lots of regular mobile phone masts is not an option in a city like Chester.

"Because Chester is a heritage city the aesthetics are very important and tourism is a key part of the economy," he said.

The output of each 15cm cylinder-shaped transmitter is 2w and a BT spokesman said that at full capacity with several operators using it simultaneously the power output will only be 7w, which is one hundred times lower than the International Committee on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection's recommended safety level.

He added that BT, Cheshire County Council and Chester City Council have held discussions around health and safety and are satisfied there are no risks to public health from the transmitter emissions.

Paul Reynolds, CEO of BT Wholesale, said in a statement: "[The] system will save duplication by mobile network operators by sharing discreet, low-power transmitters on existing street furniture. This offers the potential to reduce the use of traditional tall masts in town and city centres."

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