Our #ROSS100 project wants to bring 3G signal to 100 rural communities around the UK. Blakeney in Norfolk has already felt the benefit of our Open Sure Signal tech, and we've been to get the inside story...
We’re on the hunt for 100 rural communities across the UK that are in need of mobile signal. Why? Because our #ROSS100 (Rural Open Sure Signal or Open Femto) technology can help fix the problem. Over the past 18 months we’ve been trailing this unique solution in 12 communities around the UK, and have been on the road to see how having signal has made a difference.
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…
– Click here for the full story
This month we’ve been to Blakeney in Norfolk, a tiny seaside village that now boasts four of our Open Femto antenna units, covering the centre of the village with 3G Vodafone reception. We caught up with Village Champion and Parish Clerk, Tracey Bayfield to find out more…
“I joined the parish council nearly 14 years ago,” Tracey says. “Within the first couple of years or so, there was talk of having a mobile mast put in a triangular green nearby, or near the village Primary School. However, these were quite prominent spots, and there was quite a lot of objection to the plan. There was another project later to put one into the church tower, but for one reason or another this did not come to fruition.”
“If the flood sirens were to go down due to a tidal surge, no one would be able to contact each other…”
Tracey explains that many people feel masts may not be the answer for places as scenic and small as Blakeney. That’s why, when she found out about our Rural Open Sure Signal trial, she knew she had to get involved: “The Parish Council Chairman and myself thought we’d apply, and have a go at winning a spot on the trial because at the time we were worried we were going to lose our flood sirens, which did happen as expected.
“Blakeney is a coastal community,” says Tracey, “and if the flood sirens were to go down due to a tidal surge, no one would be able to contact each other or the emergency services if anything happened due to lack of mobile phone signal. Since then the flood sirens have been removed entirely, hence our application was even more significant.
“People would have to walk right out onto the marshes holding their phone aloft to try and get signal, with no guarantee of success.”
Thankfully, Blakeney’s application was successful, and it became one of the first 12 places to feel the benefit of the Open Sure Signal technology. The system works by attaching several small, cereal box-sized units to the roofs of key points throughout the village, where they can turn broadband internet into mobile signal for anyone on our network.
“The trial works brilliantly – as long as you’re within the vicinity, you can get five bars of 3G. It’s been wonderful.”
“We’ve got four boxes,” Tracey says. “We applied to six businesses to host the units, and four said yes. The trial works brilliantly – as long as you’re within the vicinity, you can get five bars of 3G. It’s been wonderful.”
Each unit spreads signal out up to 500 feet in every direction, so our four boxes cover the majority of the village centre. And, as we found out, all sorts of people are enjoying Blakeney’s supercharged communications:
“The area that the Open Sure Signal units cover is the heart of the village, where there are hotels, restaurants, bars and car parks, so it’s helping a lot of people – locals and guests, and businesses alike. We’ve had lots of visitors who have commented on it,” Tracey says in closing. “There are only positives, really.”
Get yourself connected… If you live in a rural area with poor mobile signal, we can help. Head to vodafone.co.uk/rural to find out how to apply to be one of the 100 new communities set to feel the force of #ROSS100.