#ROSS100 applications are still open; could your rural community benefit from Open Sure Signal? Read up on the difference it's made to one village in Norfolk.

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We’re looking for 100 rural communities that need better mobile signal. Applications are now open for our #ROSS100 (Rural Open Sure Signal 100) project, and it all comes off the back of a 12 village trial that we started in 2013.

 

innConnecting Cranborne

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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This month we’ve been to see how our Open Sure Signal tech is changing the coastal community of Blakeney, and managed to get some time with MP for North Norfolk Norman Lamb in the process. Read on to find out why he thinks bringing reliable 3G signal to Blakeney and the rest of the UK’s toughest ‘not-spots’ is so crucial…

Network vs Nature

Norman_Lamb_thumb“In coastal communities like Blakeney, communications are really important,” Norman tells us. “In fact, it can be a matter of life and death. I think back to December, for example, when flood wardens experienced real problems with mobile phone communications on this stretch of the coast.” Norman is referring to the 2013 floods in Blakeney – the second biggest on record.

A high tide and low pressure combined to send the water levels high enough to land boats clean onto the quayside.

“We’re right on the coast here, and we’re frequently faced with threats from the sea. Communications in those moments are crucial; it’s not just a good thing to have, it’s a necessity that we have good communications – there’s a very important purpose in getting this this connection.”

“It’s a necessity that we have good communications.”

Thankfully, the four Open Sure Signal units strategically placed around Blakeney now provide those areas of the village with a consistent 3G signal, which could provide a real boost to people like flood wardens in an emergency and help everyone stay connected:

“Often, communications in this part of the country are difficult,” Norman says, “and this is the first time anyone’s been able to get a reliable 3G signal in parts of Blakeney, which is a triumph. Vodafone have worked hard to make the system less obtrusive than traditional mobile phone masts, mitigating the impact on traditional buildings in a village like Blakeney.”

Bridging the rural/urban divide

Helping people stay connected during extreme weather is a real bonus, but there’s another, less immediately obvious reason that Norman believes projects like #ROSS100 are so important, not just to North Norfolk, but across the UK as a whole:

“There’s a real risk of a big urban/rural divide developing in the UK,” he tells us. “In urban areas, everyone just takes it as a complete matter of course that they’ve got very fast broadband coverage and very good mobile phone coverage. Having both of those means that businesses can operate very successfully without impediments.

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“When you go out to rural area, though, and you potentially have no broadband and no mobile phone signal, it basically makes it impossible for those kinds of businesses to operate. Everything these days depends on communication, and if you don’t have it you get left behind.

“There’s a real threat or risk in the underdevelopment of technology,” he explains, “but that means that there’s also a real opportunity if we can secure these kinds of connections. If we can get connectivity in rural areas, it makes it much easier to run a successful business and stay connected in places like Blakeney.

“I’m delighted that Vodafone is opening the programme up to another 100 communities,” Norman says in closing, “and I’m keen for local communities to explore whether they could benefit from the scheme. It’s a great project, and it’s great that Blakeney is so clearly benefitting from it.”

Roll up, roll up… If you live in a rural community with poor mobile signal, you could help make a real change. Head to vodafone.co.uk/rural to apply, and we could be bringing 3G to your home soon.