Mobile phone masts are being rationalised in Swindon so that the area is served by much taller more powerful devices to cope with the growth in mobile phone and 3G data traffic to smart phones.
In West Swindon upgrades to equipment means taller masts communicating with signalling equipment on top of the Link Centre. A joint application by Vodafone and O2 to Swindon Council is seeking agreement to replace a 15 metre mast adjacent to Tewkesbury Way, overlooking the bridge between Westlea and Toothill by a 17.5 metre monopole with antenna head frame.
Vodaphone and O2 spokesperson Ilana Clark said it would be unhelpful to state where mast upgrades are taking place but in a statement said:
‘In the last 12 months both Vodafone and O2 has seen a significant increase in the demand for data services, driven mainly by the increased uptake in smartphones and mobile broadband. If the present rate of growth in mobile broadband access continues, our modelling shows that members of the public and local businesses will not be able to access 3G services in Swindon without the improvement in coverage provided by new base stations. It is important to recognise that good mobile broadband coverage is seen as vitally important for the growth of local economies.
‘Both Vodafone and O2 have decided that we will share network assets wherever we can which will reduce the overall number of new base station locations for both parties, reduce deployment costs and follow the guidance set out in planning legislation. Base stations are low powered devices which only cover approximately half a mile in radius and therefore we have to place them close to our customers. As part of the network review, we have identified a number of base stations that require upgrading, to accommodate a second operator, and the need to introduce some new base stations into the local area.
‘We have undertaken a pre-application consultation exercise on all planning applications, and are currently working with Swindon Borough Council to address any concerns that the Council, or Ward Councillors, may have.’
Toothill and Westlea ward councillor Steve Wakefield said adding another 9 feet to the Tewkesbury Way mast is a major concern. "The mast was upgraded only 18 months ago and we were told that was it. Now they want a much taller, more intrusive mast. It will be 60 foot tall looking over people’s houses. From the bridge you will see the thing really close up."
Westlea resident Ian Howard said he was mainly concerned by the appearance of the mast. "It will clearly visible from houses in Risingham Mead and roads further afield. We’re pressing Steve Wakefield to have this application heard by the planning committee rather than it be nodded through."
Send your comments to Councillor Wakefield
Pictured from left, Ian Howard, Steve Wakefield, Chris O’Brien