COWs in fields but not on four legs

By Claire Venners, Special Projects and Network Trials Manager, Telefónica UK

My team and I arrange the placement of our temporary cell sites at major events across the UK. We call these sites COWs (Cellsites On Wheels – “Dog” just didn’t work in this case!) and put them in place to make sure O2 customers have a great experience when using their mobile.

We’ve had years of experience in bringing a COW to the odd memorable event – in fact a COW would have helped O2 customers in the crowd at the Royal Wedding upload Will and Kate’s first kiss or share a moment in Olympic history when Usain Bolt showed us his lightning pose.

Now we’re putting all that knowledge into practice to make sure the summer of 2014 goes off without a hitch by bringing COWs to Glastonbury, Wimbledon and Henley Regatta to name just a few. In fact we’ll support over 300 events this year and, with the thousands of people arriving from all four corners to be part of them, it’s important that we give O2 customers more capacity and coverage when they get there.

Two of our biggest events this year are The Tour de France and Commonwealth Games and getting ready for these prestigious events does take some serious planning – a bit like preparing for a holiday away.  First off, it’s the destination choice – you pick where you want to go and for us we select the best place for our COW to be situated. Then it’s time to book – you’ll look online, call or visit a travel agent whereas we’ll have conversations with the local councils to make sure they’re happy where our COWs go. As the date gets closer, you chat to your nice friends with a promise of a holiday gift in exchange for a lift to the airport and we talk to energy suppliers and engineers to help us get power to the temporary site. And then – finally! – it’s here.  You pack your bags (we pack our equipment) start the journey, arrive, unpack and switch off (or on in our case).

The Tour de France 2014 is a particularly special event for us this year as one of the teams taking part is sponsored by Movistar (Telefónica’s mobile brand in Spain) who’ll be proudly displaying the Movistar and O2 logo on their kit. With the Yorkshire leg of this spoke-tacular event around the corner, the Special Events team and I have walked and driven the different routes and chosen the best locations for the six COWs we’re using (we’ll soon be adding more to the fleet).  They’ll be close to the spectator hubs for example, llkley, Otley and Skipton and at the most important legs, the finish at Harrogate and Don Valley Bowl.

So if you’re planning to attend a festival or special event (in between holidays), the chances are O2 will have a COW or two among the crowd so our customers get a great experience sharing their pictures and videos of where they are and what they’re up to with their friends and family.