MP Angus MacNeil is urging island organisations to apply for the chance to have a 3G phone signal in the heart of their community.
Vodafone UK yesterday (Thursday) launched a new scheme to bring 3G mobile coverage to areas currently with a weak signal.
The Community Indoor Sure Signal (CISS) programme, which will be open to up to 100 rural community hubs, builds on the success of Vodafone’s Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS) which provides 3G mobile coverage to almost 100 rural communities including Tarbert and Castlebay.
Mr MacNeil said: “I would urge any groups or businesses in Na h-Eileanan an Iar to submit an application.
“I was delighted to support communities in Tarbert and Castlebay to benefit from the previous Vodafone programme and the service provided from that is of great value to those living and visiting those areas.”
Vodafone is calling for applications from rural community centres, such as independent or community run pubs and shops, village halls, scout huts, doctor’s surgeries or visitor centres, that do not have reliable mobile coverage, to apply for the programme.
Coverage will bring both 3G voice and data ensuring both employees and visitors at the community hubs will be able to make both calls and use data on their Vodafone mobile phones or tablets. The application process will be open until 1 September 2016 with the first selected communities being announced in the autumn.
Vodafone Community Indoor Sure Signal uses ‘femtocell’ technology similar to that being deployed by Vodafone to connect UK rural communities through its Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS) programme.Successful applicants will need an unlimited broadband package, download speeds of at least 4Mbps and upload speeds of 2Mbps and a domestic plug-in power point.
The CISS unit simply plugs into a standard fixed broadband router to provide mobile coverage throughout a building, hall or shop. No bigger than a broadband router, the unit called Sure Signal + has been used successfully by large businesses to ensure visitors and employees receive good quality indoor mobile coverage.
Meanwhile Vodafone's 4G programme is being expanded across the mainland. Vodafone launched its 4G mobile network on 28th August, 2013 when its coverage was limited to London only. It purchased the largest amount of 4G frequency spectrum in the UK’s 4G auction leaving itself well placed to offer first-class 4G services.
Vodafone says it has currently has over 85% UK 4G population coverage across 848 larger towns, cities and districts, as well as thousands of smaller communities. The network has over 6.9 million 4G subscribers and plans to provide 4G coverage to 98% of the UK population as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the Western Isles remain on 2G.