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Mobile network operator (MNO) Vodafone has achieved mobile broadband speeds of 200Mbps over a “mini mobile” mast during field tests in the village Porthcurno on the coast of Cornwall.
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Built with assistance from wireless infrastructure supplier CommScope, the telescopic mast stands at just eight metres tall, half the height of the shortest standard mast.
It has been designed specifically for use in places where standard masts may not be welcome, such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), or at rural hotels, leisure and retail parks and tourist attractions.
“The quality of mobile phone signal in West Cornwall is a subject that is regularly raised with me, as is the need to protect and preserve our countryside,” said local member of Parliament (MP) for West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Derek Thomas.
“This new mast offers the opportunity to reduce the visual impact of phone masts, while addressing people’s desire for improved connectivity.
“I’m pleased that the Vodafone mini mast is now in place and welcome any additional innovations that enable us to stay connected,” he added.
The mini masts require substantially smaller technology cabinets to house their power supply and electronics, and Vodafone claims they can be set up in around six months, approximately a third of the time it takes to build a standard mobile mast.
“We’re working hard to connect customers across the UK and our new mini mast will help provide 4G in places where other networks struggle to reach, while minimising the visual and environmental impact,” said Vodafone UK CTO Scott Petty.
“It forms part of our major investment in our network and services to provide our customers reliable coverage where they live, work and travel,” he added.
Competitor EE recently launched a domestic 4G mobile antenna to provide fixed broadband services to rural areas at speeds of up to 100Mbps. EE believes it can address more than half a million properties excluded from government or commercial broadband roll-outs using 4G to backhaul services.