Vodafone is to deploy small cells at bus stops, billboards and other street furniture to improve network coverage through a deal with JCDecaux, the world’s largest outdoor advertising company.
The operator will target locations in major cities and other densely populated areas to boost the speed and capacity of its 3G and 4G networks without having to erect masts or other costly and intrusive infrastructure.
As part of the deal, Vodafone will be responsible for deploying and managing the technology while JCDecaux will design and manufacture the housing for the equipment.
“We are delighted to partner with JCDecaux,” says Kevin Salvadori, director of technology strategy and operations at the Vodafone Group. “This agreement will help us accelerate the deployment of small cell technology by giving us access to locations that in the past have not been available for network installations.”
“After successful testing in Amsterdam, we are pleased to continue our collaboration with Vodafone by supporting its strategy to develop the quality of its networks,” adds Jean-Charles Decaux, co-CEO of JCDecaux. “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.”
The rollout forms part of Vodafone’s £19 billion ‘Project Spring’ network investment programme, of which £1 billion has been earmarked for the UK.
Earlier this year, Vodafone conducted a 2.6GHz small cell trial at Huawei’s UK headquarters in Reading. The 2.6GHz band offers poor range but high capacity, meaning it is ideally suited to boosting coverage in isolated areas where mobile demand is high.
Many of the public Wi-Fi networks being built as part of the superconnected cities schemes allow the partners, such as Virgin Media Business or BT, to install small cells on street furniture so they can sell wholesale services to mobile operators to increase capacity.
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