More areas in Croydon will benefit from improved mobile connectivity after the success of the first deployment of small cells in 2020 means over 40 new sites will be added to reach other areas. Small cell technology, which enhances 4G connectivity, will also pave the way for Croydon to adopt 5G. The additional sites will cover areas such as Norwood Junction station and the surrounding area, Thornton Heath, and retail areas such as Purley High Street.
Leading UK network service provider Freshwave was the first to sign an open access agreement with Croydon Council, allowing it to install small cells onto shareable council-owned assets. This non-exclusive approach makes it quicker and easier to enhance mobile coverage, benefitting local residents and businesses and improving digital inclusion.
Croydon Council is understood to be the first local authority to follow this open access approach which is championed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as a way to deliver improved mobile coverage more quickly. The council developed a Digital Infrastructure Toolkit which outlines an engagement process for future access to Croydon’s 20,000+ street assets. This sped up the initial 4G infrastructure deployment and will be used in the same way for 5G adoption.
Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed, cabinet member for economy and jobs, said: “We’re pleased that this programme has proved such a success and will now be extended to benefit even more residents, businesses and visitors around Croydon.
“Mobile connectivity is key for the local economy, which is why it features in the council’s digital strategy and why we’ll continue to work in innovative ways to deliver it to the area.”
Simon Frumkin, CEO of Freshwave, said: “It’s great that this pioneering open access approach has been such a success in Croydon. Smart cities need the right connectivity and the open access model can really speed up the process for turning planned improvements into a reality that make a noticeable difference to local residents and businesses. We’re looking forward to our ongoing collaboration with Croydon Council.”
Council officers are in discussion with other telecoms companies interested in further developing the borough’s open access 4G connectivity.
Over thirty new sites will be installed across the borough, including high streets, markets and smaller transport hubs, by September 2021, with the remaining sites to follow at a later date.
The original locations in the first phase of the project included enhanced coverage to East Croydon station and the main high street, in addition to Croydon University Hospital and West Valley Hospital off Wellesley Road.