· Balivanich, Lochboisdale, Lochmaddy, Tarbert, named as four of 100 rural communities across the UK shortlisted for the Vodafone Rural Open Sure Signal programme
· Community-led initiative with Vodafone brings much needed mobile coverage to help boost rural economy
· Vodafone spending more than £1 billion on its UK network and services
Vodafone UK has announced the beautiful rural communities of Balivanich, Lochboisdale, Lochmaddy and Tarbert in the Outer Hebrides are four of the 100 rural mobile not-spot communities shortlisted to receive 3G coverage under its Rural Open Sure Signal programme.
The communities have until now suffered from unreliable mobile coverage and slow network speeds. With the installation of Vodafone’s innovative Sure Signal technology, the local communities will benefit from high quality 3G voice services, and much needed access to the internet via mobile devices, contributing positively to business and everyday life.
The names of the latest communities shortlisted to join the Rural Open Sure Signal 100 programme have been announced. The list includes communities from across the UK including Trevose (Cornwall), Benacre (Suffolk), Sandness (Shetlands) and Silchester (Hampshire). Vodafone will now start working with the Village Champions on a full assessment of the application made to take part in this community-led initiative, with the service expected to go live this year.
The Rural Open Sure Signal 100 programme is a national initiative by Vodafone UK to provide reliable mobile access to up to 100 rural communities in mobile not-spot locations. Launched in July 2014, with support from local MPs, councils and rural action groups, the programme has received an overwhelming response from around the country. Applications have come from island communities in rural Shetlands to rural communities in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, picturesque villages on the south west coastline as well as along the east coast in Norfolk.
Mobile connectivity plays a vital role in keeping communities in touch and helps support local economies. However, rural and remote locations often miss out on advantages provided by modern communication tools, due to the complexity of delivering network coverage. This can be because of the geography of the area or difficulties with planning permissions in places of outstanding natural beauty. The Rural Open Sure Signal programme uses innovative ‘femtocell’ technology to provide an alternative solution to bring mobile access in locations where it isn’t possible for networks to provide coverage through traditional means.
Isles MP Angus MacNeil, who supported this programme locally and urged local communities to apply said:
“This is certainly a welcomed initiative from Vodafone, which has the potential to improve mobile telephone coverage to 3G standard for many not-spots in rural and island areas.
“I am hopeful that in the next round of applications, other places in the islands will apply and be successful.
“I was pleased to attend Vodafone’s reception yesterday at Westminster, with Anne MacLellan from Lochboisdale.”
Jeroen Hoencamp, Vodafone UK Chief Executive, said: “I am delighted Balivanich, Lochboisdale, Lochmaddy and Tarbert have been shortlisted as four of our 100 ROSS communities and I’m excited about the transformation this pioneering programme could bring to these communities. The communities who have worked with us to introduce Open Sure Signal have all told us how life has improved markedly, from the ability to make an appointment at the local doctor to telling their families they are running late for lunch. We are committed to investing hugely in our network and using innovative technologies such as Sure Signal to provide coverage to rural communities means we can reach areas where it’s been impossible to reach using traditional means.”
Vodafone’s Rural Open Sure Signal programme has now seen the connection of 13 rural communities across the UK. Communities connected so far have been enjoying social media using mobile internet whilst businesses, from GPs to pubs to a mussel farmer in the Shetlands, now have mobile signal to help make their businesses work better.
As well as using Rural Open Sure Signal to plug rural “not-spots”, Vodafone is spending more than £1 billion on its network and services across the country, including extending its 4G coverage to 395 cities and towns and thousands of smaller communities across the UK.