Vodafone UK has announced a new programme designed ‘to inject lifeblood into rural community hubs by providing reliable, indoor 3G mobile coverage and internet access’. The operator’s Community Indoor Sure Signal (CISS) programme, which will be open to up to 100 rural community hubs, aims to build on the success of Vodafone’s Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS) project, which provides 3G mobile coverage to almost 100 rural communities from the Shetland Islands to Cornwall.
Following a successful pilot at The Bear and Ragged Staff pub in Bransford, near Worcester, Vodafone is now calling for applications from rural community centres – such as independent or community run pubs and shops, village halls and doctor’s surgeries – which do not have reliable mobile coverage. The application process will be open until 1 September 2016 with the first selected communities expected to be named in the autumn. Vodafone’s CISS programme will utilise femtocell technology similar to that which it has deployed for the ROSS venture, and successful applicants will need to have an unlimited broadband package, download/upload speeds of at least 4Mbps/2Mbps and a domestic plug-in power point.
Commenting on the matter, Jorge Fernandes, Vodafone UK’s chief technology officer, was cited as saying: ‘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.’