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Durham villagers to get decent mobile signal for the first time

Friday, April 1st 2016 by Ellen Branagh

The village of Middleton-in-Teesdale has become the first Durham community to get 3G coverage as part of a Vodafone scheme.

The operator’s Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS) programme provides 3G voice and data services in areas that can’t get a reliable mobile signal using traditional means.

More than 40 communities in rural not-spots across the UK have already got improved coverage as part of ROSS, but Middleton-in-Teesdale is the first in County Durham to get 3G coverage through the programme.

Until now the area has suffered from unreliable mobile coverage but Vodafone said newly-installed ROSS units are already, on average, taking more than 300 mobile calls and supporting more than 16,000 data sessions a day.

Helen Goodman, MP for Bishop Auckland, said: “Rural villages such as Middleton-in-Teesdale are increasingly dependent on reliable mobile coverage.

“We have a lot of fantastic small businesses and local residents in Teesdale who will benefit day-to-day.

“Tourists increasingly want access to better signal to enable them to share photographs and I am sure that Teesdale will benefit from the promotion of our beautiful scenery on social media as visitors capture their visits.”

Adam Hearn, village champion for Middleton-in-Teesdale, said the village has always suffered from poor mobile coverage.

“We can now start enjoying the benefits of improved mobile coverage in the centre of the community,” he said.

Launched in July 2014, the ROSS programme aims to provide reliable mobile access to up to 100 rural communities in mobile not-spot locations.

'Digital world'

Vodafone teams have surveyed each of the 100 communities, including ground assessments by engineers and detailed fixed broadband speed checks.

Some of the initial communities had their implementation postponed until their community broadband speeds and availability had improved.

Jorge Fernandes, Vodafone UK chief technology officer, said: “Mobile connectivity is an essential service for communities and businesses to thrive in today’s digital world and support local economies.

“As part of the Rural Open Sure Signal programme, we are committed to investing in our network to provide access even in remote locations where it is otherwise almost impossible to reach.

“The number of calls and data sessions the unit is supporting every day, where there was marginal coverage previously, shows the significant benefit the technology is making to members of the community.

“I am excited to see the transformation for Middleton-in-Teesdale and other communities which have been successful for this pioneering programme.”

As well as using ROSS to plug rural not-spots, Vodafone spent around £2bn on its network and services across the country in 2014 and 2015.

This included the provision of high definition voice technology on its 3G network and the extension of its 4G coverage to over 800 cities and towns and thousands of smaller communities across the UK.

Picture courtesy of Philip Barker.

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