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Vodafone solves Britain's rural 'notspot' crisis, asks countryfolk to get involved

James Temperton
22 Jul 2014
Rural Britain (Credit: Flickr user llee_wu)
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Vodafone Open Sure Signal pledges to fill 100 rural 'notspots' and is asking communities to apply for a free 3G signal boost

Hamlets and villages plagued by poor mobile phone reception could soon get a boost as Vodafone announces plans to fix 100 mobile 'notspots'. The network has asked desperate rural communities to appeal to its generous side and stake their claim for better mobile phone coverage by filling in an online form.

The Open Sure Signal application period runs until 31 October, with keen rural communities required to do a lot of leg work before Vodafone will deem them worthy of its attention.

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As well as nominating a 'Village Champion' to head up their bid, communities will also have to select suitable sites for Vodafone to install equipment, get permission from property owners, establish broadband speeds and get support from their local MP.

Vodafone has already been trialling the technology with 12 rural communities in the UK and hopes to soon be providing up to one million people with better mobile phone coverage through its Sure Signal scheme. The technology allows people in rural communities to make clear mobile calls and access 3G mobile broadband.

Communities from Walls in the Shetland Islands to Newton St Cyres in Devon have been trying out the system, which uses a series of small, router-sized boxes that are installed throughout a village or hamlet. Vodafone said that the boxes could be attached to village halls, pubs, shops and homes across rural communities to ensure widespread coverage.

"In rural and remote locations across the UK, networks can struggle to deliver coverage via traditional means. This may be due to the geography of the area or difficulties with planning permission in areas such as national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty," Vodafone explained. The network said that its technology allowed it to bring 3G coverage to areas where traditional mobile phone coverage had failed.

David Blake, one of the 'Village Champions' on the 12 initial test communities said the technology allowed rural communities to be more self sufficient:

"It lifted the blight of being a not-spot for mobile phone reception from our village and it shows what can be done when small businesses, large companies and public organisations work together for the common good," he said.

Applications are open now, with Vodafone promising to fill 100 rural mobile 'notspots', with the first communities being connected before the end of the year.

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