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Press Release | 22 Jul 2014

VODAFONE UK LAUNCHES NATIONAL PROGRAMME FOCUSED ON RURAL NOTSPOTS

VODAFONE UK LAUNCHES NATIONAL PROGRAMME FOCUSED ON RURAL NOTSPOTS
  • Vodafone UK is giving 100 rural communities across the UK the opportunity to have mobile access
  • Up to one million people could have mobile coverage in their community using Sure Signal technology
  • Programme will build on the success of Vodafone’s ‘community-led’ Rural Open Sure Signal trial which gave access to 12 communities across the UK
  • Vodafone UK spending more than £1 billion on its network and services this year

Vodafone UK has launched a national programme giving up to 100 rural communities across the UK the opportunity to apply for mobile access. Vodafone is calling for communities to work together, in partnership with their local MP, to apply for the installation of Vodafone’s innovative Open Sure Signal technology in their villages and hamlets and bring Vodafone 3G mobile coverage to their area. In addition to Vodafone’s domestic Sure Signal device, up to one million people could have mobile signal in their community*.

Vodafone’s initial Rural Open Sure Signal trial has seen the connection of 12 rural communities across the UK, from Walls in the Shetland Islands to Newton St Cyres in Devon. Communities connected so far have been enjoying social media using mobile internet whilst businesses, from GPs to a mussel farmer, now have mobile signal to help make their businesses work better.

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 Open Sure Signal uses ‘femtocell’ technology to provide a Vodafone 3G signal in areas where traditional mobile coverage has been unable to reach.

Mobile connectivity has been identified by many commentators as playing a vital role in keeping communities in touch and helping to support rural economies. The economics of getting mobile coverage into rural areas by traditional methods, however, can mean that some communities have less opportunity than others to benefits from mobile connectivity. Ofcom’s latest annual Communications Market Report highlights that half the UK population now use their mobile phone to access the internet.** Vodafone Rural Open Sure Signal not only enables Vodafone 3G voice services, but also provides the community with much needed access to the internet via their mobile.

About the size of a domestic broadband box and in a range of colours (white/grey/brown), the units use existing broadband services to deliver the Vodafone 3G mobile signal. The units can be installed on any number of buildings including village halls, pubs, shops and homes across the community to ensure widespread mobile coverage.

Jeroen Hoencamp, Vodafone UK Chief Executive, said: “This is an opportunity for people to make a real difference to their community and to be part of our commitment to close the digital divide between rural and urban areas. Bringing mobile coverage and mobile internet to rural areas gives communities a real boost – both economically and socially. 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, said: “Mobile coverage can make a huge difference particularly to more rural and isolated communities. Vodafone’s Open Sure Signal technology offers communities the chance to transform their lives by bringing them technology many of us take for granted. I urge people to work together with their MPs to take this opportunity and bring mobile coverage to their homes.”

David Blake, Project Development Officer at Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB and Village Champion for one of the initial trial communities commented, “I am delighted that Vodafone chose Cranborne to be one of the communities that will spearhead this technology. 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. Being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty does not mean that we are preserved in aspic like an exhibit. On the contrary, it means that sustainable development is the key to our future and this cannot be achieved without modern communications.”

As well as using Rural Open Sure Signal to plug 100 rural “not-spots”, Vodafone is spending more than £1 billion on its network and services across the country this year, including extending its 4G coverage to 259 cities and towns and thousands of smaller communities across the UK. That investment comes on top of the £802m that Vodafone spent acquiring the widest portfolio of mobile spectrum in last year’s auction of new capacity by Ofcom. Vodafone have pledged to provide coverage using 2G, 3G or 4G services to 98% of the UK population in the next few years.

Applications for the Rural Open Sure Signal programme close on 14 October 2014 with the first communities to be connected by the end of the year. For more information on the programme and how to apply visit www.vodafone.co.uk/rural

For more information please contact:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

01635 666777

https://newscentre.vodafone.co.uk/

  •  **Ofcom Communications Market Report 2013 http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market- data-research/market-data/communications-market-reports/cmr13/telecoms-networks/
  • Coverage predictions are based on a number of factors including that Vodafone can obtain planning permission to build sites, access to land or buildings to place equipment and backhaul to connect sites.
  • The 12 communities who were involved in the initial trial were:

o East Garston (West Berkshire)
o Winterslow (Wiltshire)
o Newcastleton (Scottish Borders)

o Ewyas Harold (Herefordshire)
o Pendine (South Wales)
o Walls (Shetland)
o Witherslack (Cumbria)

o Caldbeck (Cumbria)
o Newton St Cyres (Devon)
o Cranborne (Dorset)
o Kinlochard (Stirling)
o Blakeney (Norfolk)

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed line connections, home and office broadband and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Having made the UK’s first mobile phone call and sent the first text message, Vodafone has a history as a tech pioneer. In 2018 we made the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G, and were first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. We now have 5G in more places than anyone else, with multiple locations now live across the UK and the rest of Europe.

Today we serve more than 18 million mobile and fixed line customers in the UK, with 4G network coverage at 99%.  Our customers voted us the UK’s Best Mobile Network at the 2018 Trusted Reviews Awards – for the second year in a row. To help deliver Gigabit UK, our full-fibre broadband roll-out programme now covers 15 UK towns and cities through partnerships with CityFibre and Openreach.

Connectivity is at the heart of what we do as it gives us a huge opportunity for good. We are using our network, products, talents and technology to help society prosper and respond to significant social and environmental issues.  Our free Digital Parenting magazine is helping families and schools across the UK to navigate the online world safely. Meanwhile, the Vodafone Foundation’s work with researchers at Imperial College is developing personalised cancer treatment using the processing power of smartphones.

We are part of Vodafone Group, one of the world’s largest technology communications companies, with mobile operations in 26 countries, partnerships with mobile networks in 55 more, and fixed broadband operations in 19 markets.  As of 30 September 2019, Vodafone Group had approximately 625 million mobile customers, 27 million fixed broadband customers, and 22 million TV customers – including all of the customers in Vodafone’s joint ventures and associates.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit: www.vodafone.co.uk

 

Vodafone UK Media Relations

Telephone: +44 (0) 1635 693 693

Twitter: @VodafoneUKNews

Website: https://newscentre.vodafone.co.uk

Vodafone Limited

Registered Office: Vodafone House, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2FN

Registered in England No: 1471587