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Vodafone trial could boost Shetland mobile broadband coverage

Wednesday, April 25th 2012
A trial of 3G technology could be conducted on Shetland this summer.
Vodafone trial could boost Shetland mobile broadband coverage
Vodafone could deliver faster mobile broadband services to more notspot areas in Shetland later this year as part of a 3G pilot scheme in rural communities across the island.

Hamnavoe and Walls were shortlisted earlier this month to take part in trials of the network operator's femtocell technology, which is a small cellular base station designed to boost indoor coverage in areas with poor reception.

Some 20 communities across the UK have now been named by Vodafone on the list of trial locations, with 12 of these set to take part in the scheme this summer.

A further 20 areas - including Wormadale and Unst in Shetland - have been named on a reserve list, reports the Shetland News.

The femtocell technology works on a similar principle to Vodafone's Sure Signal service, which can be plugged into a broadband router to improve home reception.

Commenting on the plans, a spokesman for the carrier said the trials need to be carried out in areas with no 3G mobile broadband coverage, but which have internet connectivity, power and "suitable structures" to locate the equipment on.

Shortlisted communities will be analysed in depth by Vodafone's femtocell team to look at the logistical and technological challenges that will be faced during the scheme, with the 12 eventual trialists set to be named following this research.

"The final sites selected will also depend on securing cooperation at a local level," the spokesman added.

"It's important to remember that the purpose of these trials is to road test open femto technology to bring it to a point where we could roll it out commercially to areas where there have been challenges to providing coverage in the past."

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael has previously welcomed news of the trial and said any solutions that could potentially boost coverage on Shetland should be fully explored.

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