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Vodafone Connects First Pub To Rural Mobile Coverage Project

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Two pints of lager and some 3G please, thanks to Vodafone rural coverage and femtocells

Vodafone’s Community Indoor Sure Signal (CISS) project has connected its first community hub to 3G using femtocells. 

The Wortwell Bell pub in Harleston, Norfolk will be able to serve up better mobile coverage alongside pies and pints, with the landlord claiming it will benefit the business. 

“The Vodafone Sure Signal unit is benefitting both our customers and our business,” said Chris Shore. “As keeping in touch is so important to everyone these days, having a reliable 3G signal is fantastic for our village pub.” 

Wortwell Bell 2

Rural mobile coverage

CISS intends to connect 100 community centres suffering from poor coverage, including village halls, doctor’s surgeries or visitor centres. A pilot was held in Worcestershire in conjunction with ‘Pub is the Hub’ – a non profit organisation that helps landlords diversify to serve the local community. 

Successful applicants must have an unlimited broadband connection with at least 4Mbps download speeds and 2Mbps upload speeds so the ‘Sure Signal +’ femotcell can be plugged in. Application are still being accepted. 

“Community hubs, like pubs and village halls, across the UK play an important part in rural life and supporting the local economy,” said Jorge Fernandes, Vodafone UK CTO. “We want to ensure all our customers can enjoy the benefits of mobile connectivity wherever they are but appreciate there are some communities which will take longer to get to using traditional methods.  We remain committed to innovative programmes, like ROSS and CISS, which help bring coverage to communities who need it.”  

CISS complements the Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS) initiative which provided femtocells to 100 villages. The Sure Signal+ device is pitched at businesses as a way of providing better indoor mobile coverage for staff. Hwever only 3G is possible – not 4G. 

Residents and campaigners in rural areas have long complained about the persistence of ‘notspots’ but the government and all four major operators have entered into a legally-binding agreement that will see a combined £5 billion invested into network infrastructure. 

Each operator will be required to offer at least voice and text services to 90 percent of the UK’s land mass while full coverage will increase from 69 percent to 85 percent by 2017. EE has committed to covering 95 percent of the UK’s landmass with 4G by 2020. 

 
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