Vodafone and Ericsson upgrade London network


Vodafone is upgrading 500 sites in London, plus M4 corridor locations, with brand new 2G/3G kit, allowing for HSPA+ download speeds of 21Mbps

Vodafone UK has embarked upon the upgrade of its entire network infrastructure in London, covering around 500 sites, and also a number of sites west of London along the M4 ‘corridor’.

The project, which started last month, is expected to run for a further two months. Vodafone said, including new site work, it is spending “well in excess of £1 million per day” on its UK network infrastructure. It said it is currently upgrading 25 sites per day, although the rate will slow in the New Year.

Rival O2 UK told Mobile News this month it was increasing its infrastructure spend in 2011 by 25 per cent, having put down more than £1 million per day through 2010.

The new Vodafone upgrade project, dubbed ‘Boudicca’, is being run by Swedish vendor Ericsson, which is responsible for all Vodafone’s 2G GSM network and the majority of its 3G UMTS network in the UK. Vodafone also works with Alcatel Lucent for some 3G infrastructure in the North of England.

The sites being upgraded – all within the North and South Circular ringroads – will have old 2G and 3G technology removed and replaced with new 2G and 3G kit, allowing for higher network capacity, better data speeds and broader coverage. The new kit will also require less space on rental sites and reduce energy emissions from them.

Ericsson said most new sites will allow for theoretic download speeds of 21Mbps in London, and 28Mbps 3.5G HSPA+ from certain sites, although Vodafone is assessing each site according to local demand and requirements.

The new housings will also allow for 4G LTE hardware and software installations in due course, said Ericsson.

The upgrade follows major work to Vodafone’s UK network in the past seven years to upgrade from 2G to 3G, and, in various increments following, from 384Kbps to new maximum download speeds of 21Mbps, and upwards in certain locations.

Ericsson said a third of the upgrade work is being carried out by engineers at night.

The project is likely to roll out to other UK urban centres in due course, although Vodafone claimed it is yet to decide on the next location of its network upgrade.


  1. Good on Vodafone for making an early move in this space, despite the long-term inevitability of regulatory pressure forcing down EU data roaming charges as has happened with voice services. Vodafone is a past-master at dressing these regulatory changes up as consumer benefits; Passport is a great example. The hidden opportunity here is the corporate market – once the data roaming / discounting platform is in place it makes sense to target multi-national corporates with better data roaming deals. It's not an 80/20 rule like most things – around 3 percent of corporate customers generate 80% of the international voice interconnect revenue base (the multi-national corporates or MNCs), so it's likely to be a big prize for data also. Telefonica is leading the way with a Convergys-powered multi-country multi-tax MNC solution for fixed and mobile voice and data. Vodafone needs to come up with an effective alternative. It remains to be seen whether they have a BSS platform capable enough to do the job.