Rural areas have long been overlooked in network coverage due to high costs in reaching remote locations and restrictions with placing masts in public locales, such as national parks and scenic points. Many of people in these areas have turned to signal boosting technology using Wilson Amplifiers and similar devices.
Unlike most telecoms providers, Vodafone relies on femtocell technology, which consists of small base stations and masts. This technology supports easy introduction of 3G coverage to areas untouched by other networks. Because of their small size, the boxes are easily installed on all types of buildings throughout the community.
In just his year alone, Vodafone will invest over Pounds 1bn on its network across the country, including 4G coverage expansion to 259 cities and towns and thousands of small communities across the UK.
Rival providers are close on Vodafone’s heels, announcing similar plans to service outlying areas, as well. Just last month, UK’s largest mobile operator, EE, included 14 more towns to its 4G network, to total 299 towns and cities and over 2,500 villages.
With so many providers scrambling to cover rural areas, the government is working plans to ensure operators share networks and provide “national roaming,” to reduce the incidence of signal failure.
Ed Vaizey, minister for culture and digital industries, describes Vodaphone’s plans: “Mobile coverage can make a huge difference, particularly to more rural and isolated communities.”
Telecoms industry regulator, Ofcom, published in a report that over half of UK residents access the internet via mobiles phones.
Vodafone started installations in 12 trial communities located in rural areas spread between Walls in the Shetland Islands to Newton St Cyres in Devon. Choices were based on areas that had no coverage whatsoever.
Vodafone’s chief executive, Jeroen Koencamp, 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.”