#FishermenNeedTwitter: Vodafone extends 4G to the edge of Iceland

Feel free to phish while you fish, fine fellows


Vodafone Iceland is feeding 4G to the fishes and adding significant coverage for the maritime industry.

Industry website Telecompaper reports that the network has just added the areas of Blönduós, Reyðarfjörður, and the town Hofn to the places which get 4G coverage.

It's seemingly aimed at seafarers, particularly fishermen.

Iceland isn’t the only country where there is significant coverage at sea. In the early days of GSM, Greece had way more coverage between the Greek islands than in the mountains of the mainland.

Before readers start asking why Vodafone doesn’t fix the mobile network in the UK before serving up better Icelandic coverage, it needs to be recognised that the network isn’t actually owned by Voda but just has a licence to use the name.

It’s also not bound by the antenna height restrictions which limit UK coverage.

The Icelandic network was formed when the companies Islandssimi and Tal merged, and then took on the Vodafone name in 2003. Prior to this the CEO of TAL told your reporter: “Our coverage has to be good as when I walk down the street everyone knows who I am.”

The arrangement with Vodafone means that customers roaming from the UK get better deals than if they were on a non-partner network. ®

Update:

Vodafone Iceland has updated us with some technical details about the project. It explained that key to getting the signal out to sea is the use of high mountains near the coast. It does not have access to towers nor power sources on small islands.

Because it is using highly directional masts from the mainland frequency re-use and handoff is a challenge. Vodafone Iceland’s frequency planners take this specifically into their calculations. Handoffs are processed “normally” by handover parameters.

Because GSM is a time division technology, there is a 577 microsecond boundary between timeslots. This limits cell size to abut 35km in diameter. Vodafone Iceland is using a special provision in the GSM spec featuring double timeslots and this extends the range. The company told us: “We have confirmed GSM mobile call for user in over 122km distance from telco site. That site is at 1069m above sea level."

Another factor in range is the choice of frequency, so as one might expect, the company uses 900MHz for GSM / 3G and 800MHz for 4G (LTE). There is a coverage map here.

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