Croydon Council has signed a landmark open-access, non-exclusive scheme that works with all phone providers to give customers better and faster 4G coverage and follows government best practice.
Leading UK network service provider the Freshwave Group has begun installing 4G small cell technology through central Croydon with access available to all four mobile network operators.
The deal means Croydon Council is understood to be the first local authority to follow a non-exclusive approach set out in guidelines from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Croydon’s open-access contract with the Freshwave Group will improve local businesses’ networks and available technology as the borough begins to emerge from Covid-19.
Over the last week the first open-access 4G small cells have been installed between Croydon University Hospital, along London Road to North End’s town centre shops and down South End to Warham Road, benefiting the greatest number of local businesses and pedestrians. This area was selected based on which parts of the borough have seen an increase in mobile phone usage.
Instead of being installed via antennae on telephone masts as with previous technology, the Freshwave Group has integrated 4G small cells onto council-owned streetlamps. As well as boosting the network for users in these high-demand locations today, the infrastructure is also 5G-ready.
The first phase of Croydon’s 4G installation, which also improves reception at both Croydon University Hospital and West Valley Hospital off Wellesley Road, was chosen to support the high voice and data demand around the hospitals.
Phase two will continue in extra locations later this summer and in early 2021, extending enhanced coverage across the borough.
Improving mobile and broadband connectivity across Croydon is a priority in the council’s Digital Strategy, with benefits including greater productivity for local companies, more employment opportunities and attracting new businesses.
Officers are already in discussion with other telecoms companies interested in further developing the borough’s open-access 4G connectivity.
“Strong mobile phone connectivity is hugely important to many local businesses, which is why our innovative deal with the Freshwave Group is a crucial step forward for Croydon’s economy as we look to recover from the impact of Covid-19.
“Whether you need 4G for work or decent phone reception as you walk through the town centre, these 4G small cells will make a big difference to local people, and as part of our long-term digital strategy to have world-class connectivity we will be engaging with all mobile operators to bring the latest connectivity to Croydon.”
Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed, cabinet member for economy and jobs
Simon Frumkin, CEO of the Freshwave Group, adds: “It’s been great working with Croydon. As a neutral network service provider, it’s our privilege to deliver the right kind of digital infrastructure as the smart cities of the future start to become a reality. Delivering seamless, future connectivity is no easy feat. For some towns or cities open access is the way forward, while the concession model will work better for others. What matters is that local authorities can find a way to progress and connect their community in the best way for their needs.”
Matt Warman MP, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said: “This landmark agreement breaks through one of the biggest barriers to delivering better mobile coverage to people, no matter which network they use.
“Open access telecoms infrastructure is not only the quickest and cheapest way of providing seamless 4G coverage, but it will also pave the way to delivering the economic and social benefits of next-generation 5G technology for our communities. I hope other councils now follow this forward-thinking move by Croydon.”