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Vodafone UK Connect First Rural Communities to 3G Mobile Broadband

Monday, November 10th, 2014 (1:11 pm) - Score 1,046

Mobile operator Vodafone has announced that the hilltop market town of Minchinhampton in Gloucestershire (England) has officially become the first of 30 initial rural communities to receive 3G based mobile coverage via their new Rural Open Sure Signal Programme, with many more soon to follow.

The operators Open Sure Signal (Femtocell) technology, which was first tested with 12 villages in 2011/12 (here) and most recently targeted to help another 100 communities across the United Kingdom (here), is able to make use of an existing fixed line connection to link with Vodafone’s network and this can then be used to boost outdoor mobile coverage in a specific area (an individual Sure Signal device is also available for indoor home or office coverage).

The units themselves, which behave like small routers and can be installed on any number of buildings (e.g. village halls, pubs, shops, telegraph poles, payphones etc.), help to distribute the mobile service over a wider area than might ordinarily be possible by just using a single mast (masts may struggle to push the signal into certain areas, especially at the edges of their reach).

Jeroen Hoencamp, Vodafone UK CEO, said:

Mobile connectivity is an essential service for communities and businesses to thrive in today’s digital world and support local economies. I am delighted to announce Minchinhampton as the first of the 100 communities we will light up. As part of the Rural Open Sure Signal programme, we are committed to investing in our network, using innovative technologies such as Sure Signal to provide access even in remote locations where it is otherwise almost impossible to reach. I am excited to see the transformation for Minchinhampton and every other community which has been successful for this pioneering programme.”

Stephen Hemmings, Village Champion for Minchinhampton, added:

I am thrilled that we are the first community in the Rural Open Sure Signal programme to receive this ground-breaking technology for mobile coverage. We’re looking forward to experiencing the great benefits of 3G mobile services first-hand and expect this will give a real boost to our rural economy. The thousands of tourists who visit our community and its surrounding area will also greatly benefit from this.”

It’s anticipated that the Rural Open Sure Signal programme will connect up to 100 rural communities in non-spot locations by the end of 2015. This effort is in addition to the £1bn that Vodafone are already spending in order to expand the reach of their 4G (LTE) based mobile broadband network to 98% of the UK population.

The names of the other 29 locations in the first wave of communities to join Vodafone’s programme have also been announced today and are listed below. Further communities will be announced over the coming months. This is good news, although 3G connections in such areas can struggle to deliver stable “superfast” speeds (24Mbps+) and Vodafone’s data allowances tend to be quite small, thus this approach should perhaps not be considered a long-term solution.

The Next 29 Communities
St. Andrews (Orkney)
Isle of Luing (Argyll)
Seil & Easdale (Argyll)
Killeter (Castlederg, Co Tyrone)
Pomeroy (Co Tyrone)
Bryneglwys (Denbignshire)
Corris (Gwynedd)
Hillington (Norfolk)
High Kelling (Norfolk)
Upper Sheringham (Norfolk)
Throverton (Devon)
Bridgerule (Devon)
Shobrooke (Devon)
Borrowdale (Cumbria)
Chesil Bank (Dorset)
Coln St Aldwyns (Gloucestershire)
Easton (Itchen Valley, Hampshire)
Bramdean (Hampshire)
Moylegrove (Pembrokeshire)
Blackerstone (Berwickshire)
Broad Chalk (Wiltshire)
Letcombe Regis (Oxfordshire)
Childrey (Oxfordshire)
Newborough (Staffordshire)
Spring Grove (Somerset)
Middleton-in-Teesdale (Durham)

Extended communities:
Blakeney (Norfolk)
Caldbeck (Cumbria)
East Garston (Berkshire)

Here’s a video from earlier this year to help explain.

Leave a Comment
2 Responses
  1. Avatar Sledgehammer says:

    A little bit late but, better late than NEVER!!!

  2. Avatar Tim says:

    They shouldn’t be spending time deploying 3G they should be deploying 4G now.

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