In what it claims is a ‘UK industry first’, British mobile network operator (MNO) Vodafone UK has announced plans to share some of its 4G spectrum with StrattoOpencell, to allow the indoor mobile signal service provider to offer broadband services in remote areas currently without fibre connectivity. In a press release outlining the development, Vodafone said that StrattoOpencell, which is part of The Digital Colony UK Infrastructure Platform (soon to be The Freshwave Group), will utilise its 2600MHz frequencies to offer mobile data speeds of up to 120Mbps to consumers and businesses without access to fixed fibre broadband. 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.
For its part, Vodafone UK will continue to use the 2600MHz band to provide greater mobile capacity for customers in busy areas such as stadiums and city centres. The MNO has, meanwhile, claimed it is ‘promoting efficient use of spectrum’ by inking the three-year agreement with StrattoOpencell, and noted that the deal had been made possible following local regulator Ofcom’s July 2019 decision to allow mobile operators to share spectrum.
Commenting, Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery said: ‘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.’ Philip Marnick, Group Director, Spectrum, Ofcom, was also cited as saying: ‘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.’