Vodafone UK is set to tackle rural ‘not spot’ coverage areas by deploying 100 community hubs designed to boost indoor 3G mobile coverage and internet access. The Community Indoor Sure Signal (CISS) programme follows Vodafone’s Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS), which provides 3G mobile coverage to almost 100 rural communities from the Shetland Islands to Cornwall.
Following a pilot at The Bear and Ragged Staff pub in Bransford, near Worcester (pictured), Vodafone is calling for applications from rural community centres, such as independent or community run pubs and shops, village halls, scout huts, doctor’s surgeries or visitor centres, that do not have reliable mobile coverage, to apply for the programme.
Coverage will bring both 3G voice and data ensuring both employees and visitors at the community hubs will be able to make both calls and use data on their Vodafone mobile phones or tablets. The application process will be open until 1 September 2016 with the first selected communities being announced in the autumn.
Vodafone Community Indoor Sure Signal uses ‘femtocell’ technology similar to that being deployed by Vodafone to connect UK rural communities through its ROSS scheme without the need for installing a traditional mast.
Successful applicants will need an unlimited broadband package, download speeds of at least 4Mbps and upload speeds of 2Mbps and a domestic plug-in power point. The CISS unit simply plugs into a standard fixed broadband router to provide mobile coverage throughout a building, hall or shop.
No bigger than a broadband router, the unit called Sure Signal + has been used successfully by large businesses to ensure visitors and employees receive good quality indoor mobile coverage.
Vodafone said it continues to increase its network coverage across the UK and has recently launched a 30 day network guarantee to give new and upgrading customers the chance to try out Vodafone’s network before committing to a contract. It claimed to be the only mobile company to offer such terms. Vodafone has also introduced High Definition (HD) Voice nationwide and Wi-Fi Calling to a number of its leading smartphones.
However, many rural communities can struggle to receive decent quality mobile coverage via traditional means. This can be due to a number of factors, including the extreme geographic nature of an area or difficulties with local planning permission.
Lynda Williams from The Bear and Ragged Staff commented: “We are absolutely delighted with our Vodafone Sure Signal+ unit which is providing our business with excellent Vodafone mobile coverage. Being located in a rural area, this is something we have struggled with but Vodafone have provided us with a solution. It was extremely easy to install and within minutes we were connected to the world!”
Jorge Fernandes, chief technology officer at Vodafone UK, said: “Reliable mobile coverage and mobile internet are vital to the economic and social well-being of rural communities. By installing our units, we can ensure that rural hotspots continue to play an important role in rural community life.”