Telecom network operator Vodafone UK has launched a new pilot scheme to offer indoor mobile coverage in four rural community pubs.
Vodafone UK has tied up with Pub is The Hub, a rural pubs organization, to conduct the the Rural Community Pub program.
In order to build presence in rural UK, Vodafone will deploy Vodafone’s Premium Sure Signal at four rural pubs – two in Norfolk and one each in Dyfed and Flintshire in Wales.
The discreet femtocell unit – about the size of a small broadband router – will connect to the pubs’ existing fixed broadband connection and provide indoor 3G voice coverage and high-speed 3G mobile internet access for employees and their regulars.
The average pub is estimated to contribute £80,000 to the economy. Some rural communities and the pubs struggle to receive quality mobile coverage due to 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 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, chief technology officer of Vodafone UK, said: “By combining our programs, such as Rural Community Pubs and ROSS, with our current network improvement program, we are calling time on no rural mobile coverage.”
Vodafone’s Premium Sure Signal service uses femtocell technology similar to that being deployed by Vodafone to connect 100 UK rural communities through its ROSS program.
The ROSS program fits external femtocell units to a number of buildings across a rural community, including village halls, pubs, shops and homes, to bring 3G coverage for the first time to local inhabitants and visitors.
Vodafone is investing more than £2 billion on its network and services across the UK over 2014 and 2015 to extend its 4G coverage to 650 cities and towns.