Three have announced a project which should see people in rural areas be able to get online for free in areas of poor or non-existent broadband. The company are working with the Countryside Alliance and Race Online 2012 through an initiative called the Rural Broadband Working Group. Three will give away dongles and MiFi devices and include free mobile data for a year. MiFi devices will give free access in public communal areas such as community centres and pubs.
11 rural communities are to be selected, with the first being Gringley-on-the-Hill on North Nottinghamshire- a community of around 750 people. Around 30 dongles and MiFi devices will be offered in the area.
"The lack of access to broadband internet in the countryside is a major concern which is holding back many rural businesses. The recent Government announcement of financial help to bring broadband to rural communities is welcome, but not enough, and may yet take several years to be properly realised.
Mobile internet access could be the answer to bridging the digital divide in the countryside and we, together with the other members of the Rural Broadband Working Group, are looking forward to identifying communities that can really benefit from mobile broadband."Sarah Lee, (Head of Policy) Countryside Alliance
Industry experts suspect that this is a plan by Three to help show off how useful their network is for filling in broadband not-spots, and help them lobby for new spectrum from Ofcom in the 800MHz band which could be used to help get people online.
"We've built the UK's most extensive 3G network using high-frequency spectrum, if we gain access to low-frequency spectrum like 800Mhz we will be able to significantly improve both indoor and outdoor rural coverage for the UK's smartphone and mobile broadband users.
Low-frequency spectrum on a network as big as ours is a real notspot-killer."Dave Dyson, (Chief Executive) Three
Many argue that mobile broadband speeds cannot live up to fixed-broadband speeds, but new technology which offers up-to 100Meg speeds through Long-Term Evolution (LTE) could be a real competitor to existing broadband speeds which often only reach up-to 8 Meg through ADSL in rural areas.