Vodafone and other major operators have successfully built a prototype of a new open source small cell which might one day enable far more everyday objects – from cars to mobile phones -  to help improve mobile coverage for our customers.

Back in 2017, Vodafone announced CrowdCell, a product we created, which is an open-access small cell that uses the macro 4G network as backhaul and can be deployed simply and easily wherever our customers need it.

We are now testing CrowdCell in 10 Vodafone markets. Two Vodafone operating companies have already deployed CrowdCell commercially.

As the usage of mobile data will continue to increase we see exponential growth in demand for this technology. We therefore decided to work within the framework of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) to develop a low-cost open source version of CrowdCell.

Prototype open source CrowdCell

 

Launched in February 2016, TIP was started with the goal of accelerating the pace of innovation in the telecom industry. Vodafone’s Group Head of Networks Strategy and Architecture, Santiago Tenorio sits on the TIP Board.

Work led by Vodafone in TIP’s CrowdCell Project Group, has created a collaborative community of application developers and platforms to drive innovation that is open to anyone who participates.

The TIP CrowdCell Project Group was set up in May and has already delivered specs for an opensource CrowdCell, a Request For Information (RFI) and a prototype.

The RFI identified Lime Networks as having the most compliant prototype, which we are using for trials and Alpha as being able to create a potential model. Lime also recently worked with us on a hackathon in Madrid for programming on the CrowdCell.

Over the coming months, we will lead the testing of 4G CrowdCell prototypes, first in the lab and then in the field.

Aitor Garcia Viñas is an End-to-end Network Strategic Programmes Delivery Manager. He has worked for Vodafone since 2003 in a number of engineering roles. He joined Vodafone Group’s Networks Centre of Excellence team in 2013. He is currently focused on managing 5G product trials and delivering commercial readiness. He is Vodafone’s CrowdCell project manager and Chair of the  CrowdCell Project Group in TIP.