Vodafone UK adds another femtocell-based rural connectivity programme

Vodafone UK launched another initiative designed to boost mobile call and internet coverage in rural areas, in a move that could double the number of communities currently signed up to its specialist rural programmes.

The operator invited applications from 100 rural communities to sign up to its Community Indoor Sure Signal (CISS) programme, which aims to deliver reliable indoor 3G coverage by deploying a femtocell that is connected to a building's existing fixed-line connection.

Vodafone stated that the CISS programme builds on its existing Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS) scheme, a similar femtocell-based programme that already connects close to 100 rural communities. The CISS programme is designed to be deployed by village hubs, such as community halls, local pubs, shops, doctor's surgeries, or visitor centres.

"Reliable mobile coverage and mobile internet are vital to the economic and social well-being of rural communities," Vodafone UK's CTO Jorge Fernandes noted.

Communities seeking access to Vodafone's CISS programme need to have an unlimited fixed-line broadband package available that offers minimum data rates of 4 Mbps in the downlink, and 2 Mbps in the uplink. Vodafone stated that its femtocell plugs into a standard broadband router, and pointed out that the approach is an effective way of boosting rural mobile coverage without the need to deploy additional wireless infrastructure.

The CISS programme brings the number of rural connectivity schemes offered by Vodafone UK to three. In addition to its ROSS programme, the operator also offers the Rural Community Pub programme in conjunction with the Pub is the Hub charity.

UK regulator Ofcom in February detailed plans to add new coverage obligations in future spectrum licences to boost availability of mobile services in rural areas, amid growing concern over coverage gaps outside of urban areas.

Ofcom also announced that it would offer consumers accurate information on mobile network coverage as part of efforts to push operators to improve the overall reach of their networks.

The UK government in March announced plans to ease planning restrictions covering mobile infrastructure as part of plans to improve mobile coverage.

For more:
- see this Vodafone announcement

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