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MP calls for South Lakes communities to put themselves forward forward for rural 3G pilot

November 18, 2011 10:19 AM

 (Tim broadband photo)Local MP Tim Farron has today called on villages throughout the South Lakes to put themselves forward for a rural 3G pilot being run by Vodafone.

Vodafone is currently looking for 12 rural areas to test the use of femtocells as a way to boost rural 3G coverage. The trials will start early next year, extending a 3G broadband pilot run currently in West Berkshire'sEast Garston.

To be selected for the pilot a village must meet the following criteria:

  • A population of no more than 1,000 residents
  • Local fixed broadband speeds of not less than 1.5meg
  • No existing mobile signal

These trials present a very real opportunity for rural communities to play a positive role in extending mobile coverage in rural areas.

The new system being trialled is an "open femto" which allows any Vodafone device to connect. TheEast Garstonproject saw femtocell base stations installed in payphones, the local pub and other public buildings, and will soon see some mounted on BT Openreach telephone poles.

The mobile operator is now looking for a dozen more areas to take part; those interested need to get Tim to contact Vodafone to get involved.

The announcement follows a report from OFCOM that showed 3G wasn't reaching everyone in rural areas - with 27% of people in theUK not getting coverage from all five mobile operators.

Tim commented: "This could allow us to show the county council what is possible and what we can do with the broadband funds we have secured from the government for them. I hope villages throughout the South Lakes put themselves forward and allow us to be one of the 12 pilot schemes."