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Vodafone to Begin Building Self Powered UK Mobile Masts

Thursday, November 25th, 2021 (11:35 am) - Score 2,712
Vodafone-UK-Eco-Tower-Crossflow-Energy

Anybody who thought mobile phone masts were ugly before could be in for a shock. Vodafone has announced that they’ve teamed up with Crossflow Energy and Cornerstone to start building a new range of “Eco-Towers” to support their 4G and 5G services across the UK, which are self-powered masts that use renewable energy.

As the picture rather graphically shows, such masts are anything but discreet and have somewhat of an upside-down lawnmower aesthetic. Nevertheless, Vodafone sees them as a crucial part of their journey to cutting emissions and achieving Net Zero status by 2040 (2027 when only looking at the UK).

The new towers will remove the need for Vodafone to connect to the electricity grid, relying instead on renewable energy from a unique wind turbine design (as well as solar and battery technologies), which is said to be “quiet” and “bird-friendly“.

Vodafone claims that this could also improve rural connectivity by allowing new sites to be built in more remote areas, supporting industry commitments – via the £1bn Shared Rural Network (SRN) – to cover 95% of the UK’s landmass with 4G (mobile broadband) by the end of 2025.

Admittedly, removing the need for external power is only one part of the challenge above, with ensuring an adequate fibre optic connection for data capacity being another.

Andrea Dona, Vodafone UK’s Chief Network Officer, said:

“We are committed to improving rural connectivity, but this comes with some very significant challenges. Connecting masts to the energy grid can be a major barrier to delivering this objective, so making these sites self-sufficient is a huge step forward for us and for the mobile industry.

Our approach to managing our network as responsibly as possible is very simple: we put sustainability at the heart of every decision. There is no silver bullet to reducing energy consumption, but each of these steps forward takes us closer to achieving net zero for its UK operations by 2027.”

Vodafone has spent the past two years developing the new Eco-Towers with their partners, and the first proper Proof of Concept (PoC) field-trial deployments are due to start before the end of this year. The operator is positioning these for use in “the most sensitive of sites, including Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty,” so hopefully locals will be able to see the wider benefits over the perhaps weaker aesthetic elements.

Vodafone-Eco-Tower-Side-View

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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17 Responses
  1. chris says:

    Whilst I can’t comment on the aesthetics of this solution, powering super rural masts is an issue.
    EE have had more than one ESN mast application denied due to noise polution in wilderness areas

    1. binary says:

      @chris

      Noise pollution coming from what? The low buzz of the base station equipment?

  2. cheesemp says:

    Such a good idea but it’ll never fly in national parks/Areas of outstanding natural beauty etc. Heck it can take ages just get agreement to rejig a dangerous junction in such areas let along start work. This will also attract both the NIMBYs and the 5g is destroying my brain crowd to campaign against it so I doubt we’ll see many where they are needed most. Still might work well for some areas but I won’t expect to see many!

  3. Michael V says:

    This design is hilarious

  4. David says:

    Would it not be visually better in the countryside to deploy more smaller masts that can be discreetly mounted to the top of buildings (farm buildings, houses etc) or other existing infrastructure where there is already an electricity supply, and then use StarLink as backhaul if there is no fibre available, rather than building these enormous things?

  5. Winston Smith says:

    Surely the turbine needs to swivel independently of the solar panel. It doesn’t look like it does.

    1. Paul. says:

      Looks to me like the solar panel is on top of the cabin. The plate below the turbine is a deflector to steer the wind past the vanes/paddles.

  6. Mark says:

    Shared Rural Network, isn’t that the masts proving most difficult to get permission for, and they think this will help? Every mast here has been rejected on appearance grounds, even a Telegraph pole style one, certainly won’t work for most AONB and Conservation areas.

  7. Aled says:

    I swear it’s not April 1st…

  8. Steebs says:

    Obviously not a great deal of thought went into this design really. For a start those panels are going to be just about useless in high latitudes owing to the angle of installation. The best year round elevation for panels is the Latitude in degrees from horizontal, and wind is never reliable with no set pattern. At least solar there is emperical data to support insolation throughout the year.

    Give it up, Vodafone and stop wasting my subscription money on wacky solutions

  9. GARYH says:

    Well someone is confused about whats important in an AONB, short term disruption while trenching digs in power and comms to what can if the effort is made be a relatively discrete mast, OR this monstrosity of an upside down combine harvester on a pole !!

    Valid for remote sites potentially yes, sure, but for erection in an AONB this could quite possibly be the worst design solution you could imagine.

    The only time this and AONB should be in the same article would be if the statement was that they would NOT be deployed there .

    1. Mark says:

      Well in this area doesn’t matter about short term disruption, the locals don’t want a mast of any kind no matter how discreet, they play the Health and appearance cards, every mast is rejected no matter, the council bleat on about AONB, the reference was made due to the Shared Rural Network and the whole idea that these could be well any mast could be as a solution is a non starter, usually rural means Nimby!

  10. Mike says:

    This must be rather confusing for eco-warriors, they hate masts but also love wind turbines.

    1. anonymous says:

      Not aware of your regular eco warrior hating masts. You’re thinking of the weirdos who think 5G causes CoViD perhaps.

    2. Sieg Fail says:

      @Mike: Put down your Daily Mail… you might just feel better!

  11. Grimreaper says:

    Some providers need to concentrate on improving their service to subscribers rather than pleasing those selling indulgences. It’s not the middle ages.

    1. anonymous says:

      That makes absolutely no sense in the context of this story. Mind trying again?

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