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Vodafone scheme will boost mobile coverage in rural community hubs

Thursday, July 7th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Vodafone has launched a new scheme to improve mobile connectivity in rural communities.

The Community Indoor Sure Signal (CISS) programme will provide indoor 3G mobile coverage and internet access to around 100 ‘community hubs’ such as pubs and village halls.

Following a successful trial at the Bear and Ragged Staff pub in Bransford, near Worcester, Vodafone is asking other communities to apply to join the scheme.

Independent or community-run pubs and shops, village halls, scout huts, doctor’s surgeries and visitor centres that do not have reliable mobile coverage have until 1 September to apply.

The first selected communities will be announced in the autumn.

Applicants will need an unlimited broadband package, download speeds of at least 4Mbps and upload speeds of 2Mbps as the CISS unit plugs into a standard broadband router to provide mobile coverage throughout a building.

The Sure Signal+ units use ‘femtocell’ technology similar to that used by Vodafone to connect villages as part of its Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS) programme.

The units are already used by large businesses to ensure employees and visitors have access to decent mobile coverage.

Lynda Williams, of the Bear and Ragged Staff, said: “We are absolutely delighted with our Vodafone Sure Signal+ unit, which is providing our business with excellent Vodafone mobile coverage.

“Being located in a rural area, this is something we have struggled with but Vodafone have provided us with a solution.

“It was extremely easy to install and within minutes we were connected to the world.”

'Social well-being'

Jorge Fernandes, Vodafone UK chief technology officer, said: “Reliable mobile coverage and mobile internet are vital to the economic and social well-being of rural communities.

“By installing our units, we can ensure that rural hotspots continue to play an important role in rural community life.”

Last month, Cable.co.uk reported on the latest place to receive mobile coverage through Vodafone’s ROSS scheme – Broad Chalke in Wiltshire.

The village, situated in the Cranbourne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, previously suffered from slow network speeds and unreliable mobile signal.

Broad Chalke became the third village in Wiltshire to benefit from the ROSS programme after Winterslow and Cranbourne were connected in 2015.

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