We’ve asked every UK mobile network about their plans to boost coverage at Boomtown Fair this week. The festival gets underway this Wednesday, and with up to 65,999 people on site, the nearby mobile phone masts could struggle to cope.
Fortunately, the mobile networks know how much you’ll want your calls, messages and probably Instagram to keep working, so extra temporary masts are brought in to boost signal strength around festivals.
Even when festival sites would normally have good signal extra masts are needed to provide the capacity and bandwidth demanded by large events. The permanent network at most festivals is designed to cover rural farmland rather than dense crowds.
Earlier this summer at Glastonbury, EE’s temporary network carried over 103 terabytes of data, almost 1,000 times more than in 2010. That’s equivalent to 51.5 billion selfies or 875 years of Netflix.
So which networks will have extra masts at Boomtown?
o2 told TheFestivals they’ll have four temporary masts at Boomtown and will be offering “enhanced 4G coverage”.
EE told us they’ll have two temporary masts at Boomtown, which will transmit 2G, 3G and 4G signals.
Three have twice promised to get back to us, but we’re still waiting. We’ll update this page if we hear anything.
Vodafone‘s press team didn’t respond to our requests, but one of their social media advisors told us: “This isn’t something we’d offer for festivals I’m afraid.”
o2 and Vodafone share their permanent masts, so we asked o2 if Vodafone customers can use temporary o2 masts, but o2 said the temporary masts at Boomtown won’t be shared with Vodafone.
These are the only phone networks in the UK with their own physical infrastructure, and all other networks ‘piggyback’ on the signals from a network listed above. Tesco Mobile, Sky and Giffgaff use o2 while BT Mobile and Asda use EE’s network. A full list is available here.
What if my network doesn’t have any?
If you want to do everything you can to stay in touch, it might be worth picking up a pay-as-you-go o2 or EE sim card for Boomtown, so you can take advantage of their extra masts. While these are the only two networks to confirm these will be in place, other networks could have plans they’re not telling us about, and the extra masts don’t guarantee perfect coverage everywhere at all times.
If your current phone is unlocked or dual-sim, you should be able to find a SIM card for about a quid in most supermarkets and corner shops. Alternatively, you can order a prepaid sim online.
Many people choose to leave their smartphone at home where it’s safe and take a cheaper, basic phone for calls and texts. This is also a great way to avoid getting distracted by your news feed and fully immerse yourself in the festival around you.
If you haven’t got an old one at home, you can get a free Nokia 105 on EE with a month battery life from Carphone Warehouse*. You’ll need to buy a £10 top-up, which should give you more than enough credit to keep in touch with your mates for the weekend, and the Nokia will probably outlast your next few smartphones too.
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Main image credit: Boomtown Fair / Jody Hartley