The deployment forms part of Vodafone’s ongoing Project Spring investment plan, a £19bn programme to spruce up its network, extending overall coverage, call quality and data connectivity speed.
A small cell – which can be a femtocell, picocell or microcell – is a low-powered radio access node with a range of anywhere between 10m to a 1km or more.
They are increasingly seen as a vital element in managing growth in mobile data traffic, particularly as LTE Advanced 4G networks become more widespread and operators look to extend service coverage to cope with increased data demands.
Vodafone plans to install small cells around cities and towns. The mobile operator said it hoped to improve the customer experience when browsing, and bring down the time and cost of upgrading mobile networks.
It will take charge of deploying and managing the technology, while JCDecaux will design and manufacture the housing for the equipment.
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Dutch pilot project
The two firms have already conducted a pilot scheme in the Netherlands, where 160 small cells were installed on JCDecaux-owned bus shelters around Amsterdam.
Jean-Charles Decaux, chairman of the executive board and co-CEO of JCDecaux, said: "After successful testing in Amsterdam, we are pleased to continue our collaboration with Vodafone by supporting its strategy to develop the quality of its networks.
“Connected street furniture is set to transform city life and JCDecaux is enthusiastic about contributing to these structural changes, providing lasting benefits to municipalities and citizens.”
Kevin Salvadori, director of technology strategy and operations at Vodafone, said: “This agreement will help us accelerate the deployment of small cell technology by giving us access to locations that in the past have not been available for network installations.”