Do you live in a rural area with poor mobile reception? We're working with the government to bring signal to more places in the UK than ever before...
Do you live in a part of the UK with little or no mobile coverage? Vodafone’s pioneering Rural Open Sure Signal tech could help, but the good news for anyone who lives in a rural community with poor signal is that our #ROSS100 scheme isn’t the only solution.
How do you bring mobile signal to a place where there is none? Easy: all you need is a bit of tech wizardry and the help of the local community…
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At Vodafone we’re proud to be part of a new, government-backed scheme called the Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP), which aims to fill in the holes in the UK’s mobile coverage map by 2016. To get all the info, we’ve been speaking to Vodafone’s network expert Dr Rob Matthews. Read on to find out how MIP could make a difference where you live…
All or nothing
“Ofcom estimates that there are about 80,000 premises in the UK that don’t have mobile coverage,” Rob explains. “So the government has introduced a scheme with £150 million in funding to build network infrastructure in areas where mobile operators have not previously been able provide service.”
The project isn’t intended to be a quick fix; MIP is meant to be a long-term solution: “As part of the process, the government has appointed a company called Arqiva to maintain the masts,” says Rob, “and after 20 years, Arqiva will own them.
“Ofcom estimates that there are about 80,000 premises in the UK that don’t have mobile coverage…”
“Where there is enough demand, operators have agreed to put radio kit onto each of Arqiva’s new masts to supply coverage to that local area. That includes 2G, 3G and 4G connectivity, which means areas that have previously had little or no mobile coverage can now make phone calls and access mobile internet. A couple of sites have already gone live, and we’ve already had comments from Vodafone customers, who now have access to the mobile web at 30Mbps at home!”
Rob explains that the central team at Arqiva has already earmarked the priority locations for the next 18 months, and work is well underway to deliver the sites.
“The project is due to finish in March 2016,” he explains, “and the government-stated target is to cover 60,000 premises in that time. Clearly, the infrastructure first needs to be in place before we can then set up our kit to deliver signal to our customers in that area but when it’s built, we’ll be there to get the service up and running soon after.” And it’s not just Vodafone supporting MIP: “Every UK operator will occupy the sites,” Rob explains. “The idea is that it’s all or nothing.”
“MIP is a project for all UK mobile operators – either everybody sets up their kit in the base stations, or it won’t be built in the first place. This is to ensure that customer’s from the areas where these base stations are set up have the choice of which mobile operator to go with.
“Two base stations have gone live so far,” Rob adds. “The very first one, which was in September last year, was in Weaverthorpe in North Yorkshire. That one was fast-tracked because it had an existing mast which could be used to demonstrate MIP in action. The second site is the first truly ‘new’ one, then, in North Molton in Devon, and it went live at the end of August this year.
“This is a great example of where the industry has really come together, and is working with Ofcom…”
“There are many more sites to be built over the coming months. On average, it takes about a year for each site to go from conception through to delivering a mobile signal. We’re working hard with Arqiva to reduce that time as much as we can, as we want to get more sites live by March 2016 so our customers can feel the benefits of the project.
“We’re fully supportive of the UK government working together with the mobile operators to address not spots in the UK,” Rob says in closing. “This is a great example of where the industry has really come together, and where we’re all working with Ofcom to help find and acquire new sites in those areas which would benefit from this programme, and where 3G and 4G mobile coverage will provide fantastic opportunities for people – ones that that they wouldn’t otherwise have had.”
More on rural Notspots… Stay tuned for more news on the Mobile Infrastructure Project as we get it. In the meantime, you can read all about our plans to bring 3G coverage to 100 rural communities with our Rural Open Sure Signal programme here, and find out why some areas are harder to bring mobile signal to than others right here.