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Three offer free mobile broadband to rural communities
Wednesday 31 August 2011 09:42:54 by John Hunt

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.

Comments

Posted by mobilebb over 5 years ago
It's not just about speed. Current usage allowances can't keep pace with fixed line ISPs either. I think 3 offers the most at 15GB (not counting t-mob's restrictive "unlimited" use) but that's miles off the 30-40GB for many standard broadband lines. Not to mention those heavy users on "unlimited" plans.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
@mobilebb

Currently stuffed an "All you can eat" PAYG SIM in a dongle, great land line replacement for only £15 a month, even has 300 mins + 3000 texts lol.

On average I get about 2Mbps download, 1.6Mbps upload.

Did I forget to mention it's unlimited...
Posted by bearfreeman over 5 years ago
I'm with talktalk and currently have down speed of about 200*K*, 5.5km copper/aluminium line to local exchange. ;o(
Posted by andyambridge over 5 years ago
It would be interesting to see how "rural" the selected communities are, many of the truly rural areas (and the not so rural ones) can't recieve a 3G signal in the first place or more of them would be doing this already. Does anyone know if the agreement with the RBWG would invovle putting up more transmitters?
Posted by Shhhh over 5 years ago
Cant receive it at all on Surrey Sussex Hampshire border. Are there any plans to help us in the small rural community in this area or will I be without home internet forever?
Posted by rjohnloader over 5 years ago
Shame they can't actually get service to the residents and visitors to Wensleydale let alone broadband. 3 should get its basic phone coverage sorted before anything else.
Posted by MHMertens over 5 years ago
Nice PR stunt. Just select a small town where you as a network happen to have good coverage anyway and Bob's your rural broadband uncle. Is 30 dongles for 750 people really generous? For how much anyway? Or does it only mean 30 new contracts gained with minimal cost of acquisition and the added benefit of good PR?

Satellite broadband has recently come down in price nicely, worth a look for even the most remote not-spots.
Posted by amapm over 5 years ago
Not more, Let them eat cake! thinking, PLEASE!
I live in Calder Vale in Lancashire, with a medium sized village, a working weaving mill - and an active agricultural sector.. downside 6Km from the exchange, 3km to the cab and virtually NO 3G coverage..

And no-one interested!!

Perhaps 4G on the 900Mhz band with its better propogation properties may help.

Posted by RichBeardman over 5 years ago
Isn't it laughable that we still don't have full 3G coverage across the UK? Unfortunately the regulators we have in this country seem to have no idea about regulating their industries to the country's benefit.
Posted by michaels_perry over 5 years ago
I live in rural Wiltshire and rarely get even 2 Mbps. 3G signals here are virtually non-existant so the best 'mobile' we'd get would be on 2G at a recently measured 100kbps! But even that drops out frequently! So how is this 'offer' from 3 going to be 'better' than the current poor fixed-line service? I bet you'd still have to pay per Mb once you've reached the capped limit! That would be expensive.
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