Vodafone UK offers rural areas 3G coverage boost

Rural telecoms

Vodafone UK is offering 100 rural communities the chance to get access to 3G mobile coverage through the rollout of its Open Sure Signal technology.

The mobile operator wants local communities without robust and consistent access to 3G to work with their local MPs to apply to have its technology installed in their areas.

Prospective applicants have until 14 October 2014 to submit their bids, with Vodafone anticipating that the first crop of communities should be connected by the end of the year.

The company claims its Open Sure Signal kit can be packaged in something akin to the size of a domestic broadband box and installed on various building throughout a community to guarantee 3G coverage for voice calls and mobile internet services.

The technology relies on pre-existing broadband services and femtocell technology to deliver a 3G signal and has already been trialled in 12 rural communities across the UK.

Jeroen Hoencamp, CEO of Vodafone UK, said the company's aim is to close the "digital divide" that exists between rural and urban areas through the deployment of Open Sure Signal.

"Bringing mobile coverage and mobile internet to rural areas gives communities a real boost both economically and socially," he said.

"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, minister for culture, communications and creative industries, has thrown his weight behind the initiative by trumpeting the economic benefits connectivity can provide.

"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."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.