Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire has become the first rural community to receive 3G mobile coverage as telecoms supplier Vodafone begins to eliminate mobile “notspots.”
Last week, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid pledged to eliminate areas of poor mobile coverage across the UK, including notspots – or areas where coverage can be seen from some, but not all four of the country’s mobile providers: Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three.
The Cotswolds town is the first of 30 to receive improved coverage under the Vodafone Rural Open Sure Signal Programme, an initiative to provide reliable mobile access to up to 100 rural communities requiring better coverage.
The telecoms firm claims it will be spending more than £1bn on its network and services this year and has received applications for better mobile signal from communities across the UK, from the Shetland Islands to Snowdonia.
Besides Minchinhampton, the first wave of communities to join the programme includes areas in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Minchinhampton residents, including MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and the village champion Stephen Hemmings have welcomed the news.
“The scheme will be a huge benefit to the local community, helping businesses to connect with their customers and allowing people to staying in touch with their family and friends,” claimed Clifton-Brown.
“I am thrilled that we are the first community in the Rural Open Sure Signal programme to receive this ground-breaking technology for mobile coverage,” added Hemmings.
“We’re looking forward to experiencing the great benefits of 3G mobile services first-hand and expect this will give a real boost to our rural economy.
“The thousands of tourists who visit our community and its surrounding area will also greatly benefit from this,” Hemmings claimed.
Vodafone claims its initial Open Sure Signal trial which saw the connection of 12 rural communities in the country has pleased residents who say they are enjoying social media using mobile Internet and businesses which have seen improvement since better coverage was obtained.
“Mobile connectivity is an essential service for communities and businesses to thrive in today’s digital world and support local economies,” claimed Jeroen Hoencamp, Vodafone UK chief executive.
“As part of the Rural Open Sure Signal programme, we are committed to investing in our network, using innovative technologies such as Sure Signal to provide access even in remote locations where it is otherwise almost impossible to reach.
“I am excited to see the transformation for Minchinhampton and every other community which has been successful for this pioneering programme,” Hoencamp added.