Vodafone becomes first UK company to share unused 4G spectrum to extend mobile broadband in rural areas

  • StrattoOpencell to use Vodafone 4G spectrum to bring high-speed mobile broadband to areas starved of fibre
  • This spectrum sharing complements Vodafone’s own plans to roll out reliable, high-speed mobile to rural communities
  • Vodafone first to support Ofcom’s liberalisation of the spectrum market to the benefit of industry and consumers

In a UK industry first, Vodafone is giving rural communities a boost by sharing some of its 4G spectrum with StrattoOpencell to offer high-speed mobile broadband in remote areas without fibre connectivity. StrattoOpencell is part of the Digital Colony UK Infrastructure Platform (soon to be The Freshwave Group).

StrattoOpencell will use Vodafone’s 2600MHz frequency spectrum to offer mobile data speeds of up to 120Mbps to consumers and businesses without access to fixed fibre broadband. Vodafone will continue to use the 2600MHz spectrum to provide greater mobile capacity for customers in busy areas such as stadiums and city centres.

Vodafone is promoting efficient use of spectrum under its three-year agreement with StrattoOpencell. This is possible for the first time following Ofcom’s decision in July 2019 to allow mobile operators to share spectrum. StrattoOpencell will initially use the spectrum to provide broadband services to all users at a holiday site in Devon through the deployment of 4G outdoor small cells.

Today’s agreement supports Vodafone’s strategy of using new and innovative ways to extend fast and reliable mobile services to those living, working or travelling in remote areas, whilst minimising the impact on the local environment. Other examples of this strategy include installing 5G on an existing TV and radio transmission tower on the Isles of Scilly to give customers instant access to vital online services. Vodafone has also erected mini mobile masts in Cornwall and transformed old beachfront phone boxes with the latest 4G technology.

Vodafone UK’s Chief Executive Officer Nick Jeffery said: “Vodafone has a long history of innovation, from sending the first text message to conducting the first 5G holographic call. We are delighted to become the first mobile company in the UK to share some of our spectrum to extend rural coverage.

By offering some of our 4G spectrum to StrattoOpencell, we are helping to extend fast and reliable mobile network access for people in rural communities. Mobile connectivity in rural areas is just as important as it is for those in towns and cities, which is why we continue to work with others to help improve rural connectivity for all.”

Graham Payne, CEO of The Digital Colony UK Infrastructure Platform, added: “There remains a digital divide in connectivity options for those in UK’s urban centres and more rural areas. We are delighted to join forces with Vodafone to bring a fresh approach to close this gap. We are pioneering new solutions and services as part of our neutral host approach to UK digital infrastructure, in order to connect more people and businesses to reliable networks. This new model takes the industry a significant step closer to enabling ubiquitous UK connectivity.”

Philip Marnick, Group Director, Spectrum, Ofcom, commented: “Our new sharing approach aims to help more people access the airwaves they need to create local networks around the UK, including improving connections in rural areas. Vodafone and StrattoOpencell are the first to take advantage of this. We look forward to seeing how others use our new spectrum access approach to support innovation and enable local communities to have better connections.”

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