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Vodafone Uses Fixed Lines to Help 100 UK Rural Areas Get 3G Mobile

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 (2:06 pm) - Score 1,157
vodafone uk broadband

Mobile operator Vodafone has announced that it will shortly begin expanding the use of their Open Sure Signal (Femtocell) technology in order to make 3G based Mobile Broadband and voice calling services available in up to 100 new rural communities across the United Kingdom.

The Sure Signal technology is able to make use of an existing fixed line broadband connection to link with Vodafone’s network and this can be used to boost either indoor or outdoor mobile coverage. In this instance we’re talking about the outdoor variety, which is often cheaper than building a new mobile mast.

The units themselves act like small routers and can be installed on any number of buildings including village halls, pubs, shops, telegraph poles, payphones and even homes to ensure widespread mobile coverage. At the end of 2011 Vodafone announced a trial of their outdoor Rural Open Sure Signal solution (here), which once again utilised the capacity from existing fixed lines in order to help supply and relay a 3G service to around 12 rural villages (e.g. Walls in the Shetland Islands and Newton St Cyres in Devon).

Now Vodafone has announced that this will be expanded to nearly 100 additional villages and hamlets in areas where mobile reception is currently poor and the prospect of building a new mast and or dedicated capacity supply unlikely (i.e. too expensive / difficult). As before the operator has already begun calling on interested communities to register their interest.

Jeroen Hoencamp, Vodafone UK CEO, said:

This is an opportunity for people to make a real difference to their community and to be part of our commitment to close the digital divide between rural and urban areas. Bringing mobile coverage and mobile internet to rural areas gives communities a real boost – both economically and socially. I’m looking forward to seeing the successful communities light up and start to experience the benefits mobile connectivity will bring to each and every community involved.”

Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister, added:

Mobile coverage can make a huge difference particularly to more rural and isolated communities. Vodafone’s Open Sure Signal technology offers communities the chance to transform their lives by bringing them technology many of us take for granted. I urge people to work together with their MPs to take this opportunity and bring mobile coverage to their homes.”

Applications for the expanded Rural Open Sure Signal programme close on 14th October 2014 and it’s hoped that the first communities will then be connected by the end of 2014. Separately Vodafone, much like most of the other Mobile Network Operators (MNO), have also pledged to provide coverage using 2G, 3G or 4G services to 98% of the UK population by the end of 2015 (or 2017 at the very latest). We note that EE hopes to achieve this feat even sooner than that.

However it’s important to remember that such solutions, while very innovative, can still be limited by the quality of existing local links (fixed lines) and are thus not going to work for everybody. On the other hand there are rural areas that do have good fixed line connections, albeit poor mobile coverage, and these are the ones most likely to benefit from Vodafone’s project.

The original 12 communities were:
o East Garston (West Berkshire)
o Winterslow (Wiltshire)
o Newcastleton (Scottish Borders)
o Ewyas Harold (Herefordshire)
o Pendine (South Wales)
o Walls (Shetland)
o Witherslack (Cumbria)
o Caldbeck (Cumbria)
o Newton St Cyres (Devon)
o Cranborne (Dorset)
o Kinlochard (Stirling)
o Blakeney (Norfolk)

Leave a Comment
10 Responses
  1. Avatar flipdee

    Vodafone would facteed to do something, never mind rural areas, although their 2G coverage is reasonable, 2.75G rarely seen anywhere, their 3G coverage in Northern Ireland is an absolute disgrace, EE is at least 3G nearly everywhere, H+ in f.
    Vodafone don’t even have 3G coverage on main roads across the country, what is going on?

  2. Avatar flipdee

    Apologies for typos, that’ll teach me for typing within greader.

  3. Avatar gerarda

    Is 100 villages the limit of Vodafone ambitions to get a decent signal into rural areas or just an estimate of those that might have a good enough broadband to make an improvement?

  4. Avatar Tim

    The catch is that this Femtocell will be limited by the available land line broadband.

  5. Avatar dragoneast

    Ah so the 3G/4G which is going to make BT’s fixed line network redundant, actually in some rural areas is going to depend upon it. Wake up dreamers.

  6. Avatar stephen

    I would imagine that the majority of rural users are on exchange only lines (and long ones at that) and therefore will not have good landline speeds in the first place. Unless BT have been very secretly installing rural cabinets where there were none before, which I very much doubt.
    Would it not be better use of Vodafone’s time to put the money towards speeding up the 800MHZ rollout?

    • Avatar Unknown101

      The first section is correct – they’re in fact do EO conversions all over the country by intersecting the “E” side part of the EO cable and putting it into a PCP which then allowing it to have a DSLAM stood next to it for FTTC.

    • Avatar gerarda

      It was my understanding that EO conversions were specifically ruled out for funding under the BDUK cost guidelines – at least as far as the 90/95% could be reached without doing any.

    • Avatar Unknown101

      gerarda – not sure if correct or not but I know a lot of work throughout the country on EO conversion for BDUK work. If it’s intersecting a EO cable that goes passed a cabinet into an existing cabinet or in some places they are placing a new cabinet as far along the EO line possible so FTTC technology can be used.

      Some lines that are far away from the cabinets are also having secondary cabinets further along the D side which then bring the FTTC technology closer to the peoples homes and businesses.

  7. Avatar Stephen

    I have heard of BT doing this for E/O lines very close to the exchange but not for the longer ones.

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