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single sites, it’s going to be extremely cheap”, he promises. “Our aim for the single sites is to do it cheaper than people can afford to do them- selves. If we can’t do it cheaper than people can afford to run their own CBS [common base station], then they are not going to be much interested! So that is our target. “We have tiered the single sites in three dif-

ferent categories, which we are calling silver, gold and platinum. A silver site might be a site which is being donated free of charge by the lo- cal council: the licence is particularly cheap and it doesn’t particularly cover very far. So we do it quite cheap and cheerful. “Te platinum sites are at the other end

of the scale. We’ve got an aerial up on Emley Moor, which is over 1000 feet up in the air. It covers 90-odd miles of Yorkshire. So we go from one extreme to the other. “Most of the sites will be in the Gold catego-

ry, so for single site that will be approximately £9 a month for single-site group call. We’re go- ing to make it an affordable tariff.” For an extra £5 a month, vehicle tracking is

available too, with Web-based mapping. “As you can imagine, tracking is quite a valuable product”, Mr Hunt adds.

Service bundles To support its services, Fleetcomm is offering bundled airtime packages, with a choice of new or refurbished radios and full maintenance sup- port. “We are pretty much giving the radios away, because the problem with all these used to be the availability of the equipment”, Mr Hunt continues. Top-of-the-range offering is a new Tait mo-

bile, complete with digital signal processing and Web-based tracking, providing national network coverage for £35 per month. At the other end of the scale comes local, single site coverage. For a typical single site, an airtime- only subscription will retail at around £5.60 per month (or £15 with a refurbished radio), and as little as £3.75 for ‘silver’ sites which are less in demand, such as Dover or Brighton.

Wider coverage With the improved performance of modern trunked mobiles, subscribers can expect bet- ter radio coverage even from the existing sites. For Mr Hunt, this has meant opportunities to cut out more of the fat from the network – for example, he has closed one of its old London sites. “What we’ve done is taken out the Alex- andra Palace site – the reason being that Alex-

andra Palace was put in when you had the old Tait 500s on the network, which weren’t up to particularly good performance”, he says. “We don’t have any Tait 500s, or even the old Key with silver knobs on; none of those are on the network now. Te radios perform a lot better, so we found that site was no longer necessary. And what we could do was to improve the aeri- als on Crystal Palace, which would fill in the hole there. Tat made a good cost saving. “So the customers will notice that the sites

which we have got cover further than they used to. So our single-site coverage is a lot greater.” At the same time, Fleetcomm is enhancing

its handportable coverage in the capital. “It’s going to become an eight-site handportable network across the London–M25 area”, Mr Hunt continues. “So our coverage will be sec- ond only to Airwave and we will be the best publicly-accessible two-way radio network cov- erage. It will basically offer coverage which your average CBS on top of the Millbank Tower won’t be able to beat. “When we are talking about having base sta-

tion sites on top of Trellick Tower [North Ken- sington], Barbican – all the usual suspects, ef- fectively – it’s going to be more akin to a proper cellular radio system.”

Network expansion Outside London, the grand plan is to rebuild Fleetcomm as a national network. “But it’s not going to be a national network quite like it was”, Sam Hunt adds quickly. “What we’re going to do is put in a national network which covers where there is demand. “If we discover, for example, that in Corn-

wall that there isn’t any demand – and I know there is a well-established network down there already – if there is no demand then we are not going to put in a network just simply to fill it in on the map. We are only going to put it in if there is demand, because what we don’t want to do is to have sites which are losing us money.” Around the country, the work is proceeding

rapidly. “Manchester will be coming online by the time your magazine is printed”, Mr Hunt continues. “And Liverpool. Effectively, we will be from the Humber to the Mersey. So the east coast to the west coast up there [will be] cov- ered; we’ll also hopefully have a site online in Birmingham and we aim to cover the M6 cor- ridor from Manchester. You can basically drive from Manchester down the M6 and down the M1 to London. So that run will be covered. “Te M1 corridor: we’re not sure whether

Top right: Fleetcomm’s headquarters in Goole, Yorkshire. Middle: microwave link equipment at a Fleetcomm radio site – an IP-based system developed by the company for its inter-site communications circuits is providing improved speech quality for subscribers as well as cutting operating costs. Bottom: radio racks at a major Fleetcomm site. Such sites are equipped with extensive protection against technical failure

LAND mobile October 2011 27

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