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Herefordshire village gets 3G signal through Vodafone programme

Thursday, December 3rd 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

A Herefordshire village is the latest community to get decent mobile coverage thanks to Vodafone.

Fownhope has been provided with a reliable 3G signal as part of the operator’s Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS) programme.

Vodafone is bringing connectivity to up to 100 rural communities in mobile not-spots – areas with little or no coverage.

The programme uses ‘femtocell’ technology – Sure Signal boxes that connect to existing broadband lines – to create a mobile signal.

The ROSS units in Fownhope are already taking an average of 150 mobile calls and supporting more than 8,500 data sessions a day.

Kevin Braybrook, village champion for Fownhope, said: “Nearly 18 months after we first started campaigning for better mobile phone signal in Fownhope, we are delighted that the Vodafone ROSS system has gone live.

“The campaign for a better mobile phone signal involved numerous Fownhope residents who helped collect signatures, monitor cell phone signal strength and lobby Ofcom.

“[Local MP] Bill Wiggin played an important part in taking our campaign to parliament and Vodafone are, so far, the only company to have taken a proactive role in bringing better mobile phone signal to rural areas like Fownhope.

“The parish council is grateful to Vodafone for providing the system at no cost to the village, and to the Vodafone engineers who did a great job designing and installing the system.”

Mr Wiggin, MP for north Herefordshire, said he started discussing new options with Fownhope residents after a proposed mast was cancelled.

He also presented a petition to Sajid Javid, culture secretary at the time, and put questions to both the government and mobile providers.

'Almost impossible to reach'

“This is an excellent outcome for Fownhope and I am delighted to have been able to play my part in delivering this important win for the community.

“This campaign and the successful outcome has made me rethink my current mobile phone provider, as Vodafone has demonstrated a real commitment to solving the problems of mobile phone signal for those in rural communities.”

Jorge Fernandes, Vodafone UK’s chief technology officer, said: “I am delighted that Fownhope has joined our 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, in an area 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 Fownhope and other communities which have been successful for this pioneering programme.”

In September, more than 300 homes and businesses in Fownhope got access to superfast broadband as part of the Fastershire project, a partnership between Herefordshire and Gloucestershire councils and BT.

Picture courtesy of Pauline Eccles.

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