In our quest to bring cell coverage to the whole UK, an ingenious solution for rural areas is currently in testing in a leafy Wiltshire garden...

We’ve been working hard for some years now to bring consistent, reliable network coverage to the whole of the UK. Although we’re getting closer with every month that goes by, there are still areas of the UK that present a real challenge – so called ‘Notspots’ – where geography can make it hard to deliver a consistent mobile signal.

Many of these problems can be solved by our large network masts, but there are some circumstances where a mast isn’t a feasible solution – many of the UK’s national parks, for example, are protected conservation sites but still home to thousands of people.

Is it a bird… box?

With those areas in mind, Vodafone UK’s tireless network engineers have worked with the telecoms experts at NET Coverage Solutions to develop a new solution for those in rural areas…

vodafone-bird-box

That’s a bird box, right? Wrong. It’s actually a cunning disguise for our latest mini antenna, which should bring better mobile coverage – particularly indoors – for those living in rural areas.

In effect, the bird box works as a supercharged signal booster, picking up the mobile signal from the nearest network mast, and boosting it to provide better coverage in the surrounding area.

The box is currently still in testing in a leafy Wiltshire garden, and things are looking rosy according to Pedro Santos – Vodafone UK’s lead network engineer and the man who installed the first box:

“The Vodafone bird box is working well,” says Pedro, “and no birds have been sufficiently fooled to try to get into it, although the customer says it looks very convincing.”

“We take great care about the visual impact our systems have on the beautiful country side,” he continues. “A standard external mobile antenna can look out of place situated on or near a rural cottage so we are always looking at clever ways to ensure they blend into the surroundings.”

vodafone-bird-box-2

And that includes our Rural Open Sure Signal (#ROSS100) campaign too. We’ve brought signal to a number of isolated ‘notspots’ across the country – including Cranborne in Dorset, and Winterslow in Wiltshire – but the genius of the system is that our Sure Signal devices are no bigger than a cereal box, and easily camouflaged to make them as unobtrusive as possible.

Ecological awareness

Vodafone’s ecological awareness stretches far beyond our work to bring mobile signal to the nation. Over the years, our network masts have become regular homes for nesting peregrine falcons – now a protected species in the UK – and Vodafone network engineers have to take considerable precautions to avoid disturbing them.

Although our latest bird box might not be able to house any birds, they will always be at home on top of one of our masts.

A falcon in the works… Click here to find out more about the peregrine falcons that inhabit our masts, and how we work to protect them.