Vodafone announces programme for reliable indoor mobile coverage in rural pubs

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Vodafone UK has announced a new programme called Rural Community Pub programme in association with with rural pubs organisation, Pub is The Hub, under which it intends to provide reliable indoor mobile coverage in rural areas.

Under the pilot programme, the mobile operator will be installing its Premium Sure Signal at four rural pubs – two in Norfolk and one each in Dyfed and Flintshire in Wales. The unit is basically a ‘femtocell’ device that connects to the pubs’ existing fixed broadband connection and provides reliable, deep indoor 3G voice coverage and high-speed 3G mobile internet access for employees and their regulars.

Vodafone says that while an average pub contributes an estimated £80,000 to the economy annually, pubs in rural areas struggle as far as mobile coverage is concerned. Rural areas area already suffering from poor mobile coverage and some of the factors responsible for this include extreme geographic nature of the area; difficulties with local planning permission or the absence of a fixed fibre connection required to link a mobile mast back to the core network infrastructure.

The mobile operator says that its Rural Community Pub pilot and Vodafone’s innovative ‘femtocell’ schemes, such as its successful Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS) programme, will help bring reliable coverage to rural communities without the need for a traditional mast.

Pub is The Hub works closely with rural pubs to support rural services through diversification so it was a natural partner when it came to identifying suitable pubs for the pilot scheme.

The Cross Keys in Dilham, Norfolk and The Mermaid Inn in Elsing, Norfolk are already enjoying the technology, whilst the Blue Bell, Halkyn in Flintshire and The Royal Oak, Rhandirmwyn, Llandovery, Dyfed are expected to go live in the next few months.

Jorge Fernandes, Vodafone UK Chief Technology Officer, said: “We are delighted to be able to help these rural pubs extend and broaden the vital range of services they provide to the communities they serve through the use of the latest mobile technology. Pubs up and down the UK are key to the economic and social well-being of rural communities and the country. By combining our innovative programmes, such as Rural Community Pubs and ROSS, with our current network improvement programme, we are calling time on no rural mobile coverage.”

John Longden, Chief Executive for Pub is The Hub said: “When so much of modern life is about ‘connectivity’ we were delighted to work with Vodafone on this pilot project – we can only see benefits to rural pubs and their surrounding communities and visitors.”