After announcing its plans for achieving 95% UK geographical coverage by 2020, EE has moved to announce its first steps to connect the Scottish Highlands.
Working with Lime Micro and open-source specialist Ubuntu, EE has launched the Lime SDR Mini, which it claims is a network-in-a-box solution, utilising open-source code to allow dynamic software and services reconfiguration. LimeSDR is, according to EE, a low cost, app-enabled software defined radio basestation that can be programmed to accommodate any and all types of wireless standard.
EE is opening up use-cases to the wider industry too via a crowdfunding campaign, saying the box puts “significant power at the disposal of anyone who wants to innovate in the world of wireless”. The University of Highlands and Islands will be actively participating in the project through the use of open-source network development kits.
Speaking about the university’s participation in the project, vice-chancellor Clive Mulholland said “We are excited to be working with EE to explore the opportunities this development can offer to the university and the communities we serve. The technology could be particularly relevant to our work in remote and rural health and digital innovation. As a regional university, we aim to have a transformational impact on the Highlands and Islands so we welcome any initiatives which have the potential to benefit our area.”
Masoor Hanif, EE’s RAN director, says bringing software-esque programmability to networking hardware could have a similar impact as applications did for mobile.
“Apps and smartphones revolutionised the mobile experience and this could have the same impact on the network – we’re allowing anyone to build an app that can introduce a new service or a new capability to a mobile network,” he says. “That could be to connect a rural area of the UK for the first time, or to be part of designing how 5G works. This type of innovation is vital to evolving wireless networks, and we’re making sure that the UK is at the forefront of that.”