Vodafone has announced it will use manhole covers to help improve 4G mobile coverage in urban areas.
The mobile telecoms providers said it plans to use “inventive ways to expand and strengthen” its network across the UK, including housing mobile equipment within other street fixtures such as lamp-posts and phone boxes.
Vodafone said it plans to fit the roofs of traditional phone boxes with small 4G antennae on Princes Street in time for the city’s world-famous Hogmanay celebrations.
Using phone boxes to house these antennae, the company said, is a “great way of increasing the speed and capacity of a 4G signal at street level.”
It can also help to extend 4G in areas of “outstanding beauty” or remote places where a mobile mast is difficult to install.
The firm has already installed two types of mobile-enabled manhole covers at its Newbury office and technology centre.
One of these is a purpose-built, reinforced unit similar in size to a water butt sunk into the ground. The other uses an existing cast iron manhole cover. These can carry calls and provide high-speed internet access over a radius of more than 200 metres without consuming large amounts of power.
In addition to the firm’s Newbury project, Vodafone announced it will look to roll out 4G under both its own manhole covers and those of utility providers across the UK.
Vodafone UK’s chief executive, Nick Jeffery, said using older infrastructure can help benefit consumers in a modern, digital era.
“It is great to be able to use yesterday’s infrastructure – from phone boxes to manhole covers – to deliver the services of tomorrow,” he said. “This is one of the ways we are extending our 4G services to areas other networks cannot reach, and getting ready for 5G.”
Jeffery added: “We are committed to providing customers with the best network possible by drawing on our strengths in innovation and strong UK heritage.”
In October, Vodafone announced it would work alongside CityFibre to help deliver “gold standard” connectivity for Edinburgh locals.
The project with CityFibre aims to give every home and business in the UK access to next-generation, full fibre internet.
Following this recent announcement, Edinburgh could be on course to become one of the UK’s most connected cities.