A round-up of our latest Corporate Sustainability activity.
Vodafone brings mobile coverage to North Wales country park
Our mission to bring a reliable 3G service to 100 rural not-spots continues. The latest community to benefit from our Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS) programme is the beautiful Loggerheads Country Park in Denbighshire, North Wales. 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.
Launched in July 2014, with support from local MPs, councils and rural action groups, the ROSS programme received an overwhelming response, with applications from across the country from the Shetland Islands to Cornwall and from the mountains of Snowdonia to the Norfolk coast.
Jorge Fernandes, Vodafone UK Chief Technology Officer, said: “Mobile connectivity is an essential service for areas like Loggerheads. However, getting traditional coverage to this area of Outstanding Natural Beauty would prove very difficult. “Reliable mobile phone coverage will make such a difference. Not only for the people who live and work in the park but for the thousands of visitors it receives each year.”
The Rt Hon. David Jones, MP for Clwyd West said: “I’m delighted that Loggerheads has joined other communities across the UK in getting access to mobile internet services through Vodafone’s Rural Open Sure Signal Programme. “The project is a great example of local people working together with businesses to bring the benefits of digital connectivity to their community.”
Tunisia—helping our customers stay in touch
Keeping in touch is never more important than in an emergency and the devastating events in Tunisia last month brought that home to all of us. Such a major catastrophe affects huge numbers of people—not just those caught up in it—and we wanted to make sure that all our customers could get in touch with loved ones without worrying about extra charges. From 26 June until 3 July we credited the costs of calling into or out of the country. Our customers didn’t need to take any action—the credits were automatically applied during the timeframe and included data roaming charges for customers in Tunisia.
We set up a special support team to help customers affected and we monitored all accounts registered in Tunisia at the time to make sure service was not disrupted.
Our Instant Network team deploys to Nepal
The Vodafone Foundation Instant Network Mini team was deployed to Nepal back in April to help with connectivity to some of the areas worst affected by the devastating earthquake. The Instant Network Mini weighs 11kg and can be carried in a back pack. It takes just 10 minutes for the Vodafone volunteer team to set up. The team were on hand to help local operators get their own mobile communications up and running, and to help aid workers communicate and local people get in touch with families and friends. The Foundation also supported relief efforts with a £100,000 donation.
This was the team’s first deployment with our Instant Network Mini. The larger version— weighing 100kg, and packed into four suitcases, has been deployed in Kenya during the drought of 2012, in the Philippines in 2012 and 2013 after Typhoon Bopha and Typhoon Haiyan, and in Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam in March.
Working with SMEs to improve digital skills
We’ve launched a trial series of digital skills workshops to help small to medium enterprises (SMEs) get ready for the increasingly online and global market place. Working in partnership with Freeformers—the digital transformation company—each workshop will equip SMEs with the practical skills needed to build a website, facilitate online payments, protect themselves from cybersecurity risks and use social
media to drive sales and awareness.
SMEs are a vital part of the UK economy making up 99% of all UK business yet around a third do not have any online presence at all—potentially missing out on sales opportunities and the chance to compete with local, national and international rivals. Jonathan Kini, Head of Small & SME Business at Vodafone UK says: “It is no surprise that the way we do business is changing. This is driven by more and more transactions happening online and by customers’changing expectations. “Customers want to be able to engage with businesses through multiple channels and to receive fast, responsive and quality customer service 24/7. Therefore SMEs need to adapt and be ready to take advantage of the online opportunities and benefits of being a digital business and not risk losing out by falling behind the digital curve. “We are really pleased to be launching this new initiative which will help many more SMEs become Ready Businesses.”
The first workshops took place in Leeds in July with more planned for London this summer.
Child protection campaign
Vodafone Romania colleagues have been working with the UK National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Command to run a safety campaign by text. The text messages, aimed at young people and their across Romania provide tips on how to say safe online. The campaign reached over 4,500 users and formed part of a week-long event hosted by the National Crime Agency in Romania.