3 Mobile offering free mobile broadband to rural communities

Tuesday, August 30th 2011
The carrier will make free dongles and internet access available to 11 villages across the country.
3 Mobile offering free mobile broadband to rural communities
Network operator 3 Mobile has announced plans to offer free mobile broadband access to rural communities that are currently struggling for connectivity.

Dongles and 12 months of usage will be gifted to 11 remote locations, including the north Nottinghamshire village of Gringley-on-the-Hill.

Explaining the initiative, 3 Mobile said it comes as part of its pledge to the government's Race Online 2012 project, which is aiming to make the UK the first nation in the world where every citizen can use the internet.

Some 8.7 million adults across the country have never accessed the web, almost half of whom are made up of disadvantaged groups including the unemployed and over-65s.

The scheme has come about thanks to a partnership between 3 Mobile, Race Online and the Countryside Alliance.

Dave Dyson, the carrier's chief executive, said 3 Mobile is keen to secure frequency from the 800MHz spectrum band when it goes up for auction next year. If it succeeds, the company will be in a strong position to decrease the number of communities across the country that are currently unable to access a broadband connection, he claimed.

"We've built the UK's most extensive 3G network using high-frequency spectrum," Mr Dyson remarked.

"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."

According to research published by Ofcom in May, 17 per cent of UK households are using mobile broadband services to browse the web, with seven per cent relying on the technology as their only means of getting online.

In areas of good 3G coverage, average mobile broadband speeds stood at 2.1Mbps between September and December, falling to 1.7Mbps during peak times. 

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