Vodafone Group signed a global agreement with outdoor advertising giant JCDecaux to install small cells on street furniture and billboards to improve network coverage.
The deployment is part of Vodafone’s £19 billion Project Spring investment programme, which is intended to extend network reach and improve voice quality and increase data connectivity speeds.
The small cells will primarily be installed in cities and densely populated areas, giving customers faster 3G and 4G connectivity, improve outdoor and indoor coverage and reduce the time and cost of upgrading mobile networks.
Vodafone will deploy and manage the hardware, which will be housed by products designed and manufactured by JCDecaux.
The two companies conducted a successful pilot programme in the Netherlands in which 160 small cells were installed in JCDecaux bus shelters in Amsterdam by Vodafone Netherlands.
Kevin Salvadori, director of technology strategy and operations for Vodafone Group, said the agreement will help “accelerate the deployment of small cell technology by giving us access to locations that in the past have not been available for network installations”.
“Connected street furniture is set to transform city life and JCDecaux is enthusiastic about contributing to these structural changes, providing lasting benefits to municipalities and citizens,” added Jean-Charles Decaux, co-CEO of JCDecaux.
Vodafone did not respond to Mobile World Live’s request to name the chosen small cell vendor, but recent deals point to the likely supplier.
Vodafone chose Alcatel-Lucent as a ‘supplier of reference’ for small cells with integrated Wi-Fi capability as part of Project Spring in July.
The Franco-US infrastructure firm subsequently partnered with JCDecaux in September to drive the development of connected street furniture.
The press release flagging the partnership stated that Alcatel-Lucent had demonstrated the “relevance” of combining its small cells with street furniture to improve connectivity in urban environment.
JCDecaux also struck a deal with Huawei in November, which was described as a “technical cooperation to combine both companies’ core competencies and drive crowd-sourcing small cell deployment globally”.