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Residents of the isolated village of Staylittle in mid-Wales are able to use mobile broadband services for the first time after mobile network operator (MNO) O2 set up the community’s first permanent 4G mast.
The village briefly made national headlines after it was completely cut off from all network connectivity for a fortnight back in 2015, it is thought due to a thunderstorm damaging parts of the local BT network.
As a result, most of the residents were forced to rely on a single working landline connection in the local post office to communicate with the rest of the world, while a lucky few were able to fall back on satellite broadband services.
After that episode, O2 installed a temporary 2G mast, enabling people in Staylittle to make voice calls and send text messages for the first time. This has now been upgraded to a 4G facility, enabling both 3G and 4G connectivity, and hence mobile broadband access.
“It’s a huge, positive change for the village,” said Russell George, Welsh Assembly member for Montgomeryshire and chair of the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee. “A change that is guaranteed to improve the lives of those living in Staylittle, who can now go online with confidence and connect with friends, family and colleagues through their mobile.”
Local business owner Becky Williams added: “Having mobile internet access has already made a big difference to the local community. We are all very happy to be able to connect online with our family and friends – a luxury that is often taken for granted elsewhere in the UK.”
O2 has plans to invest substantially across Wales in the next six months, and already has its sights set on addressing connectivity issues in about 400 other small communities.
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Brendan O’Reilly, O2 CTO, said: “Ever since we heard Staylittle’s story in 2015, we have worked tirelessly to get its residents to this point – where they can make calls and access the internet and social media on the move, just like most of the country.
“Seeing what a difference being connected is already making to families and businesses in Staylittle has made this a memorable achievement, and one we are working hard to emulate in other rural villages across Wales.”