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MP helps Witherslack to get the chance of 3G broadband

April 9, 2012 3:31 PM

Local MP Tim Farron has today welcomed news that Witherslack has been shortlisted for a major 3G pilot. Tim has been lobbying hard behind the scenes to make sure that the South Lakes village is put on the shortlist for this project.

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.

In an email to Tim, Vodafone said: "Thank you for your interest in our open femto project, and for nominating the communities of Beetham, Kirkby Lonsdale, and Witherslack, and Dalton Hall Business Centre, to take part in our open femto trials. Our open femto project team have now selected a shortlist of communities which best meet the initial criteria, including being a mobile coverage notspot, and having sufficiently fast broadband services to support open femto technology. I am delighted to tell you that Witherslack has been shortlisted."

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 Garston project 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.

Vodafone will now provide a list of questions to the local project representatives, and the company are now analysing the shortlisted communities in depth, including a visit to each community, to look at the technological and logistical challenges, and they will select the 12 trialists based on the results of their research.

Tim commented: "This news that Witherslack is on the shortlist and that it would be a 3G pilot 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 will work with the community and the parish council to do everything I possibly can to bring the pilot scheme to the South Lakes."