Vodafone is installing mobile cell sites in bird boxes, although our feathered friends will not be allowed inside.
The company has form in providing improved coverage for avians, with special care taken to look after nesting falcons.
The new bird box is a signal repeater, something only the licenced networks are allowed to install, although Ofcom has plans to reform that. And, while the new repeater might look like a bird box, it isn’t.
Vodafone said the “bird box itself does not allow birds to nest inside but has been designed to blend into a country building".
The aim is to provide customers with improved indoor mobile coverage in rural areas, without ruining the aesthetic appearance of a rural building or cottage.
Pedro Santos, Vodafone UK’s lead technical engineer, who installed the system, said: “We take great care about the visual impact our systems have on the beautiful countryside. A standard external mobile antenna can look out of place situated on or near a rural cottage, so we are always looking at clever ways to ensure they blend into the surroundings."
"The Vodafone bird box is working well and no birds have been sufficiently fooled to try to get into it, although the customer says it looks very convincing," he added.
The Voafone “bird box” is currently being tested in a garden in Wiltshire and contains an antenna and a coax cable, which runs to the garage of the house where the tester lives.
From here, another set of antennas relay the 3G and 4G signals. The bird box end is passive, so does not require any power, while the transmitting antennas are powered from the garage.
Vodafone UK is rolling out its Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS) service to up to 100 rural communities in order to provide local residents with reliable mobile access for the first time in their village or hamlet.
No bigger than a cereal box, the ROSS system has been adapted to blend into the exterior stone walls of pubs.
The hardware has been developed for Vodafone by Net Coverage Solutions which specialises in putting cell sites into churches – because it’s not just priests who have a calling. ®