Press Release | 02 Oct 2019

Vodafone becomes first UK company to share unused 4G spectrum to extend mobile broadband in rural areas

Vodafone becomes first UK company to share unused 4G spectrum to extend mobile broadband in rural areas
  • StrattoOpencell to use Vodafone 4G spectrum to bring high-speed mobile broadband to areas starved of fibre
  • This spectrum sharing complements Vodafone’s own plans to roll out reliable, high-speed mobile to rural communities
  • Vodafone first to support Ofcom’s liberalisation of the spectrum market to the benefit of industry and consumers

In a UK industry first, Vodafone is giving rural communities a boost by sharing some of its 4G spectrum with StrattoOpencell to offer high-speed mobile broadband in remote areas without fibre connectivity. StrattoOpencell is part of the Digital Colony UK Infrastructure Platform (soon to be The Freshwave Group).

StrattoOpencell will use Vodafone’s 2600MHz frequency spectrum to offer mobile data speeds of up to 120Mbps to consumers and businesses without access to fixed fibre broadband. Vodafone will continue to use the 2600MHz spectrum to provide greater mobile capacity for customers in busy areas such as stadiums and city centres.

Vodafone is promoting efficient use of spectrum under its three-year agreement with StrattoOpencell. This is possible for the first time following Ofcom’s decision in July 2019 to allow mobile operators to share spectrum. 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.

Today’s agreement supports Vodafone’s strategy of using new and innovative ways to extend fast and reliable mobile services to those living, working or travelling in remote areas, whilst minimising the impact on the local environment. Other examples of this strategy include installing 5G on an existing TV and radio transmission tower on the Isles of Scilly to give customers instant access to vital online services. Vodafone has also erected mini mobile masts in Cornwall and transformed old beachfront phone boxes with the latest 4G technology.

Vodafone UK’s Chief Executive Officer Nick Jeffery said: “Vodafone has a long history of innovation, from sending the first text message to conducting the first 5G holographic call. 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. Mobile connectivity in rural areas is just as important as it is for those in towns and cities, which is why we continue to work with others to help improve rural connectivity for all.”

Graham Payne, CEO of The Digital Colony UK Infrastructure Platform, added: “There remains a digital divide in connectivity options for those in UK’s urban centres and more rural areas. We are delighted to join forces with Vodafone to bring a fresh approach to close this gap. We are pioneering new solutions and services as part of our neutral host approach to UK digital infrastructure, in order to connect more people and businesses to reliable networks. This new model takes the industry a significant step closer to enabling ubiquitous UK connectivity.”

Philip Marnick, Group Director, Spectrum, Ofcom, commented: “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.”

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For further information:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

Telephone:  01635 693 693



About StrattoOpencell

Stratto and Opencell were acquired by Digital Colony and merged in 2018 to form StrattoOpencell, combining the power of small cells with distributed antenna products and architecture to enable true neutral host in-building connectivity as a service. The business works with many of the UK’s leading enterprise, hospitality, specialty workplace and large-scale developer businesses, providing carrier-grade multi-operator indoor mobile coverage anywhere that people work, live and play. StrattoOpencell is Digital Colony’s first investment in the UK and is part of its broader plan to create an integrated digital infrastructure platform with towers, small cells, fibre networks and data centres as The Freshwave Group.

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed line connections, home and office broadband and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Having made the UK’s first mobile phone call and sent the first text message, Vodafone has a history as a tech pioneer. In 2018 we made the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G, and were first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. We now have 5G in more places than anyone else, with multiple locations now live across the UK and the rest of Europe.

Today we serve more than 18 million mobile and fixed line customers in the UK, with 4G network coverage at 99%.  Our customers voted us the UK’s Best Mobile Network at the 2018 Trusted Reviews Awards – for the second year in a row. To help deliver Gigabit UK, our full-fibre broadband roll-out programme now covers 15 UK towns and cities through partnerships with CityFibre and Openreach.

Connectivity is at the heart of what we do as it gives us a huge opportunity for good. We are using our network, products, talents and technology to help society prosper and respond to significant social and environmental issues.  Our free Digital Parenting magazine is helping families and schools across the UK to navigate the online world safely. Meanwhile, the Vodafone Foundation’s work with researchers at Imperial College is developing personalised cancer treatment using the processing power of smartphones.

We are part of Vodafone Group, one of the world’s largest technology communications companies, with mobile operations in 26 countries, partnerships with mobile networks in 55 more, and fixed broadband operations in 19 markets.  As of 30 September 2019, Vodafone Group had approximately 625 million mobile customers, 27 million fixed broadband customers, and 22 million TV customers – including all of the customers in Vodafone’s joint ventures and associates.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit:


Vodafone UK Media Relations

Telephone: +44 (0) 1635 693 693

Twitter: @VodafoneUKNews


Vodafone Limited

Registered Office: Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2FN

Registered in England No: 1471587