Vodafone wants access to London's rooftops for 4G expansion

(Image Credit: Raphaël Chekroun)

Vodafone is hoping to up the number of antennas in the capital through appealing to London's many councils to provide access to the rooftops of 1,000 buildings where new antennas can be installed to boost 4G coverage for mobile broadband and voice services. 

Londoners consume around 90 Terabytes of mobile data every day, yet the UK's capital lags behind many other large cities in other countries when it comes to coverage. London has around 2.5 mobile phone antennas per kilometre, compared to Madrid which benefits from over double that amount with 6.3 per kilometre.

We are committed to the largest ever investment in London in our 30-year history

The operator reports that it has witnessed network usage growth of 76% this year, but customers will sometimes run into coverage issues due to infamous outdated planning laws and obstructions preventing access to key sites where antennas could be installed to ensure demands are being met.

Jorge Fernandes, Vodafone’s CTO, said: “Londoners are the UK’s biggest consumers of mobile data with around 90 Terabytes used every day, which is equal to streaming nearly 23 million average length songs. Today, we call on local councils to open their rooftops to allow us to make London’s digital network infrastructure world-class." 

Vodafone promised to invest £19bn/€23bn in their network and services between March 2014 and 2016. Back in 2014, we reported on a study from RootMetics which placed Vodafone last in their comprehensive tests. Since then, the operator has invested heavily in their network – including spending around £200 million in London between 2014 and 2015 – along with boosting rural coverage through Femtocell technology, and the introduction of HD voice

The operator has now reached 99% population coverage for their 4G services, but unfortunately this falls to 85% for indoor coverage and just 60% for deep indoor (i.e. heart of the building.) 

Fernandes says: "We are committed to the largest ever investment in London in our 30-year history and we need their [London's councils] help. We want to further extend our coverage indoors and out as well as ensure ample capacity to support London for the next twenty years.” 

It's great to see Vodafone thinking about the future, speaking openly about issues, and making a public call for help in ensuring they can meet increasing capacity and coverage demands. The operator has already built and upgraded around 460 sites with 4G in key locations, including the Shard and other landmark buildings, but we hope at least some more local councils will open-up their rooftops for the benefit of Londoners. 

Do you think planning laws need to be updated? Let us know in the comments.

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Guillermo Viale
22 Oct 2015, 2:18 a.m.

Of course an update can help to grow faster but if not you must be creative to be within the law.