Mobile & Wireless News

Vodafone Installs Phone Chargers In 500 London Cabs

Vodafone taxis will offer mobile charging and allow text payments as part of a giant ad campaign in London

Londoners will be able to charge their mobile phones in the back of more than 500 black cabs from today, thanks to a new advertising campaign from Vodafone.

The company will begin installing the chargers this week, with the whole fleet due to be kitted out by August. The chargers reportedly support all makes of mobile phone.

Vodafone customers will also be able to pay for their journeys using their phone at no extra charge. Registered customers can simply text the word ‘Taxi’, followed by their taxi’s number and the amount they want to pay, to 31255.

Wrapping ad campaign

For those hoping to flag down a Vodafone taxi, they should be hard to miss. Each cab will feature a colourful Union Jack design, made up of over 2000 London street names.

The £1 million ‘wrapping’ ad campaign is one biggest ever seen in the capital, and is designed to tout the improvements Vodafone has made to its mobile coverage in London. It will be followed next week by the first of a fleet of Vodafone-branded Heathrow Express trains.

“We are committed to offering London the best possible network. We have already made hundreds of improvements to increase coverage, capacity and reliability to ensure Londoners can always stay in touch with friends and family,” said Vodafone UK chief executive Guy Laurence.

“Now with our fantastic fleet of Union Jack cabs and their on-board chargers which anyone can use, all Londoners will be able to see our continuing commitment to the capital.”

Supporting the royal wedding

Vodafone has a good reputation for providing fast and consistent coverage, coming out top in a survey of the UK’s mobile operators commissioned by O2 last year. However, the company’s network was crippled by a break-in at one of its technical facilities in February, which affected millions of customers’ voice, data and text services.

Perhaps in an attempt to repair some of the reputational damage caused by the outage, Vodafone made a cencerted effort to boost network capacity on the day of the royal wedding, both at key sites in central London and in Kate Middleton’s home village of Bucklebury.

The company reportedly erected portable 3G base stations near the village, to allow “at least double” the number of users to call, text, tweet and update their social networks simultaneously. Temporary mobile masts were also installed in St James’ Park and Hyde Park, as well as Clapham Common, where thousands watched the ceremony in front of big screens.