Vilicom, a BAI Communications (BAI) company, today announces the successful live deployment of a Vodafone 4G mobile network at the world’s largest offshore wind farm in operation, Hornsea 2, 55 miles off the Yorkshire coast in England.

The wind farm, which has just been completed by global leader in offshore wind Ørsted, spans a 472km2 area in the North Sea and comprises 165 8.4MW turbines expected to generate a combined total power output of 1.4GW. It will be capable of powering over 1.4 million UK homes with clean electricity.

Vilicom and Vodafone teams worked closely for two years to build the communication infrastructure in tandem with the construction of the wind farm, which now supports a live Vodafone 4G mobile service across the entire wind farm. This is welcome news to Ørsted, its staff and all users and vessels who can now seamlessly enjoy the same Vodafone reliable network experience as they do onshore.

The network provides Vodafone 4G mobile connectivity for the hundreds of operational and maintenance staff employed on the site, both across the sail route and spanning the entire wind farm. Vilicom has built and will power the critical communications infrastructure to enable workers to access the data and information systems needed for the operation of the wind farm, as well as giving them the ability to stay connected with family and friends using their personal devices.

During the construction phase, Vilicom also delivered a temporary solution to provide connectivity to the employees working across a five-vessel fleet of floating offices. Hornsea 2 will continue to support opportunities for economic growth in the Humber region, as it contributes to the UK’s goal for renewable electricity generation in the context of a growing energy crisis.

Sean Keating, CEO of Vilicom, said: “At Vilicom we’re delighted to play our part in a cleaner, greener future. The completion of this network is a huge achievement for Vilicom, Vodafone and Ørsted teams. Not only have we overcome the unique set of challenges involved in deploying a mobile network in the middle of the North Sea, but we have also accomplished this feat of engineering during a pandemic, with difficult operational circumstances.”

Patrick Harnett, Vice President UK Programme, Ørsted said: “It is so important to have a 4G network that allows us to improve the efficiency of construction and operations of the world’s largest offshore wind farm. It’s also very important for our colleagues working out at sea to be able to connect back home to their friends and families. The wind farm which has become fully operational in August this year, will have the capacity to provide the UK with clean, green energy for 1.4 million homes.” 

Nick Gliddon, Business Director, Vodafone UK said: ”Building a complete mobile infrastructure on an offshore wind farm is a technical challenge, but I’m delighted we’re able to provide the connectivity that Ørsted’s Hornsea 2 needs to connect to the outside world and be efficiently managed.  It is testament to the great collaboration between us and Vilicom. Vodafone has committed to reach net zero in our UK operations by 2027, so it’s brilliant to be involved in a project bringing new renewable power to the UK.”

Vilicom, which is based in Dublin and Reading and is an expert in deploying state of the art wireless solutions in complex environments, was acquired last year by the global communications infrastructure provider BAI. It provides a range of specialist wireless services including consultancy, design, optimisation, testing and systems integration to support the delivery of private, indoor and offshore networks. Major projects include the Moray East offshore wind farm in Scotland where Vilicom designed a bespoke private network covering an area of 295km².

BAI is currently working with Transport for London to bring full connectivity to the London Underground and has partnered with Sunderland City Council to build a new private 5G network across the city, including a 5G test lab in The University of Sunderland, making it one of the UK’s first 5G-enabled universities.