Vodafone UK commenced a trial of what it claimed was the nation’s first wind and solar-powered mobile phone mast, an initiative it hopes could be deployed across the country to boost connectivity in remote areas.
The self-powered 4G mast is located in Wales, and was produced in partnership with turbine technology specialist Crossflow Energy and mobile infrastructure company Cornerstone.
Vodafone claimed a major selling point is the mast’s ability to run without connection to the national electricity grid, a prominent financial and logistical issue which has challenged operators when installing traditional infrastructure.
The operator noted the mast could bridge the UK’s rural digital divide by bringing mobile and internet services to remote communities, boosting local economies and tackling isolation.
Vodafone further pointed to the fact the mast can be installed without digging trenches or laying electric cables, making it easier and faster to deploy than traditional infrastructure.
The mast is fitted with a Crossflow Energy wind turbine capable of generating power in light winds, solar panels and on-site battery storage.
It is also designed to be recognised and avoided by radar and wildlife, while also producing minimal sound to render it viable for sensitive natural sites.
Vodafone also pointed to the benefits of minimising carbon emissions, as part of its goal to achieve net zero UK operations by 2027.
The trial will run for two years, during which data will be gathered on the operation of the tower and to determine suitable sites.
If the trial is successful, Vodafone predicts potential national deployments in areas with little or no coverage.