Running on and off since 1970, Britain’s Glastonbury Festival is famous for hosting such acts as David Bowie, The Who, Coldplay, and Beyoncé. It’s also famous for its sea of mud and streams flowing through tents thanks to the typical English weather. This year, high tech meets the bucolic at the Festival as visitors are greeted by a herd of life-sized, glass-fiber cows that double as free Wi-Fi hotspots to keep them connected.
The cows were made by telecommunications company EE, which specializes in building high-speed wireless networks for rural areas. The brightly-painted bovines have electronics embedded inside to provide free 4G Wi-Fi for festival-goers, which will allow them to upload images, video, and access social media at high speed over EE’s 4G network, regardless of their mobile network carrier.
The "Moobile" hotspots of the "High-Speed Herd," as EE calls them, are placed at key points on the Festival grounds and are modeled after the dairy cows at Worthy Farm in Pilton, where the first Glastonbury Festival was held. Each was painted by Hank, the Glastonbury artist, and his team who since the 80s have been responsible for decorating the famous rubbish bins used at the festival to handle the 2,500 tons of rubbish left behind each year. Examples of the bins can be found at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
"It’s not the first cow I've ever painted but it’s certainly the most high-tech," says Hank. "We’ve loved bringing these 4G beasts to life and I think they look brilliant. My team and I have even named them: Dolly, Daisy and Molly seemed the perfect fit to me."
The network is available at the Festival from 10 am to 10 pm, Thursday through the Festivals’ end on Sunday. In addition, EE is providing 100 card readers in the Festival’s 25 main bars, Cash on Tap facilities to spend up to £20 (US$34) on purchases using their phones, and the official Glastonbury 2014 app, which provides news and live streams of BBC coverage of the Festival.