VODAFONE HAS TEAMED UP with researchers at London's Imperial College to look at ways of leveraging cell towers to process big data.
A Wall Street Journal report reveals that the plan to place servers within base stations would reduce latency for heavy load, data intensive services such as video streaming, which could in turn increase the overall speed of the network.
So-called "edge computing", where applications are run from base station servers, was trialed at this year's Mobile World Congress, where a partnership between IBM and Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) demonstrated a prototype system.
The Vodafone experiment has not committed to this or any other technology as yet. "One of the platforms we have been looking at are the IBM and NSN applications," said a spokesman for Vodafone. "We are still in testing phases at the moment."
With fifth generation (5G) services still some years off and demand increasing, networks are looking for ways to bridge the widening gap between supply and demand.
Any rollout of this technology is some ways off but it might see its first field tests in mass participation events such as the Glastonbury Festival, where a normally quiet base station suddenly has to cope with 180,000 festival-goers tweeting, sharing selfies and checking stage times.
Pop-up networks are sometimes used by telecoms companies to increase capacity, but these only increase the number of concurrent users rather than the total bandwidth or computing power. Should the Vodafone experiment be successful, the technology might be rolled out relatively quickly in situations where extra capacity is required. µ