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Mobile network operator (MNO) Vodafone has revealed the Wortwell Bell Inn in Harleston, Norfolk, is the first “community hub” to benefit from indoor 3G coverage under its Community Indoor Sure Signal (Ciss) programme.
The Ciss scheme was launched in 2016 as an accompaniment to Vodafone’s relatively successful Rural Open Sure Signal (Ross) programme, which uses femtocells connected to standard broadband connections to provide basic 3G mobile services in areas that could not previously receive a signal. To date, Ross has helped 84 communities in remote parts of the UK.
Ciss also builds on a previous pilot run alongside Pub is the Hub, which is an organisation that aims to expand the range of services available from rural pubs to preserve them for their communities. Ciss uses similar technology to provide mobile voice and data services to staff and patrons at the Wortwell Bell Inn.
Village pubs often suffer from a lack of reliable indoor coverage due to their remoteness and because they are often housed in older properties with thicker walls that standard mobile signals cannot penetrate.
“Community hubs, such as pubs and village halls, across the UK play an important part in rural life and supporting the local economy,” said Vodafone UK CTO Jorge Fernandes.
“We want to ensure all our customers can enjoy the benefits of mobile connectivity wherever they are, but appreciate there are some communities which will take longer to get to using traditional methods. We remain committed to innovative programmes, such as Ross and Ciss, which help bring coverage to communities who need it,” he added.
Chris Shore, landlord of The Wortwell Bell Inn, added: “The Vodafone Sure Signal unit is benefitting both our customers and our business. As keeping in touch is important to everyone these days, having a reliable 3G signal is fantastic for our village pub.”
The Ciss programme is still open and accepting applications from community hubs, which as well as pubs can include community centres, village halls and GP surgeries, for example, with the eventual aim of connecting 100 of them around the UK.
Applicants will need to be able to guarantee the presence of a broadband connection capable of at least 4Mbps down and 2Mbps up, as well as an unlimited data package, said Vodafone.