Vodafone UK claimed an “industry first” after testing a small, telescopic, 4G mast designed for areas with restrictions on visible infrastructure including those deemed to be of natural beauty.
The operator trialled the kit, developed in partnership with CommScope, on the south coast of England. During the test an eight metre high mast was used to deliver voice services and data speeds in excess of 200Mb/s. Vodafone said the equipment does not require cabinets to store power supplies or electronics and can be painted to fit in with its surroundings.
Vodafone UK CTO Scott Petty added: “We’re working hard to connect customers across the UK and our new mini mast will help provide 4G in places where other networks struggle to reach, while minimising the visual and environmental impact. It forms part of our major investment in our network and services to provide our customers reliable coverage where they live, work and travel.”
Gaining planning permission for mobile infrastructure to boost coverage in rural areas has long been a bugbear of the country’s operators. In October 2017, when a senior politician criticised network coverage and quality, operator group Mobile UK again highlighted issues in the planning process as hampering installation of equipment.
Vodafone’s trial is the latest boost for connectivity in rural areas of the UK after operator EE last week unveiled a plan to use 4G to provide home broadband in areas parent BT is unable to reach with its fibre network.