How Vodafone supports festivals and special events

From Glastonbury to Royal Ascot, from The Goodwood Festival of Speed to The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Vodafone provides reliable digital experiences to customers wherever they are, even where the network might not be.

  • Vodafone supports 71 special events across the UK each year, by installing temporary infrastructure, known as a “Cells on Wheel” (COW).
  • Temporary infrastructure allows Vodafone to provide digital services to consumers and business customers wherever they are in the UK, without leaving a permanent mark on the landscape.
  • Customers at Glastonbury Festival 2023 consumed almost 169 terabytes of data in an area where only dairy cows graze 359 days a year.
  • 5G data usage at special events is rapidly increasing, with customers using 80% more 5G data in 2023 compared to 2022.

In 2023, Vodafone deployed temporary mobile phone masts at 71 special events across the UK. These events took place in diverse locations, from the middle of the countryside (such as Glastonbury) to a London suburb (The Wimbledon Tennis Championships). But a vast increase in the number of people visiting a small location for a short period of time means the existing network would not be able to deliver the digital experience customers expect.

A COW (Cell on Wheel) is a temporary mobile mast that is erected prior to these events to provide connectivity in unusual circumstances. This might be when 200,000 people travel to rural Somerset to attend Glastonbury, or when the Wimbledon Tennis Championships cause thousands more people each day to descend on the leafy suburb of SW19.

With 24 COWs constantly travelling around the country, Vodafone is able to adapt its network to meet heightened demand for a short time. For example, Glastonbury is little more than a field with (real) cows for 359 days a year, but for five days it becomes the third largest city in the South West.

With 5G provided at every event Vodafone supported in 2023, customers were able to benefit from faster and more reliable connections. The amount of 5G data generated at events across 2023 increased by 80% in comparison to 2022.

Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer, Vodafone UK said: “Providing the reliable digital experience our customers have come to expect is a challenge in normal circumstances. This becomes significantly more complex when there are hundreds of thousands of people in the middle of nowhere expecting to live stream their Elton John experience to friends and family.

“COWs allow us to install a telecoms network in a matter of days to deliver this experience, but also makes sure we leave no permanent mark on the landscape. We can flex our network in and out, to deliver a reliable digital experience wherever our customers are.”

Each COW is fitted with several technologies to deliver digital services to customers. This includes the radio antenna so smartphones can receive data and phone calls, as well as microwave technology to connect the COW to the rest of the Vodafone network. The microwave technology means Vodafone does not necessarily have to dig a trench through the countryside to connect the mast with fibre optic cabling.

The importance of upload speeds as well as download

Festivals and special events also indicate customers use connectivity services slightly differently from our day-to-day lives.

On average across the events Vodafone has supported in 2023, upload data (when users are sending information to someone else or the cloud) was roughly 19% of the total transmitted across the network. For day-to-day usage, Vodafone would expect upload data to be roughly 10% of the total data usage.

This data usage demonstrates that customers are sharing their experiences with friends and family more frequently at festivals and other events than they would in normal life.

Dona said: “Connectivity is a way to bring people together when they are miles apart, and we are constantly evolving how we build temporary networks to ensure it is configured in a way that supports how customers want and need to use digital.”

This content extract was originally sourced from an external website (Vodafone) and is the copyright of the external website owner. TelecomTV is not responsible for the content of external websites. Legal Notices

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