Vodafone offers 3G signal boost to rural areas

Rotten or patchy broadband signal at home or at work could be a thing of the past if Vodafone's Open Sure Signal project can prove its worth.
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

Vodafone is working on a project that aims to improve 3G mobile signals across up to 100 rural communities.

The mobile operator wants communities "to work together, in partnership with their local MP" to apply to have one of the company's Open Sure Signal hot spots installed in their town or village if they currently have difficulty getting a reliable signal.

"Most people have access to our services but we know that some don't have the quality signal they should," said a spokesperson for the company.

"We want to know where those problems are so we can look at some way to solve them. We have been running the trial with this to find out what the issues are and we think we now know most of the answers. Experience has shown us that the best way to improve things is through local action and local involvement which is why we any to recruit local champions."

The company's initial Rural Open Sure Signal trial has seen the connection of 12 rural communities across the UK from as far afield as Walls in the Shetland Islands and Newton St Cyres down in Devon. Vodafone Open Sure Signal uses femtocell technology to provide a 3G signal in areas where traditional mobile coverage isn't available.

About the size of a domestic broadband box, the units use existing broadband services to deliver a 3G mobile signal. Vodafone is actively trying to get the units installed on any available public buildings including village halls, pubs and shops, as well as in homes.

The addition of the 100 new communities and groups to be linked will take the figure to 112. The project will continue to be rolled out between now and 14 October. You can find more information including an application form to get you started in your community here.

In February, the company introduced Sure Signal Premium, a service which is aimed at businesses with 320 seats or more and more than 3,200 square metres of office space.

David Blake, village champion for Cranborne, one of the initial trial sites, said it shows what can be done when small businesses, large companies and public organisations work together for the common good.

"Being an area of outstanding natural beauty does not mean that we are preserved in aspic like an exhibit. On the contrary, it means that sustainable development is the key to our future and this cannot be achieved without modern communications," he said.

The minister for culture, communications and the creative industries, Ed Vaizey, added his weight to Vodafone's push to expand mobile coverage in rural areas.

"Mobile coverage can make a huge difference particularly to more rural and isolated communities," he said. "I urge people to work together with their MPs to take this opportunity and bring mobile coverage to their homes."

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