UK MOBILE OPERATOR Vodafone announced an initiative on Tuesday to bring a 3G boost to 100 of the country's rural "notspots".
Vodafone won't be dishing 3G out recklessly, though. The firm has pledged to bring the 3G boost, which will see the installation of its Open Sure Signal technology, to the UK's keenest villages and hamlets (PDF).
Vodafone has already completed 12 similar pilot projects, bringing mobile internet to more than 10,000 people for the first time.
The company is calling for communities to work together, in partnership with their local MP, to apply for the boost, which will involve selecting a "Village Champion" to lead the project, identifying suitable sites where the Open Sure Signal equipment can be installed and obtaining permissions from landlords to use those sites.
The mobile operator said that in the 100 "notspots" that prove their worth, it will cover the cost of the installation and equipment, which will see around four or five Open Sure Signal femtocells hooked up in any chosen area.
There are a couple of small downsides to the initiative, however. A £30 electricity fee must be paid by the community annually, the "notspot" must be able to provide a 4Mbps internet connection for the femtocells to access and, perhaps unsurprisingly, users must be on the Vodafone network to benefit from the Vodafone network service.
Vodafone UK CEO Jeroen Hoencamp seemed pretty pleased with the plan, however, saying, "This is an opportunity for people to make a real difference to their community and to be part of our commitment to close the digital divide between rural and urban areas.
"Bringing mobile coverage and mobile internet to rural areas gives communities a real boost - both economically and socially. I;m looking forward to seeing the successful communities light up and start to experience the benefits mobile connectivity will bring to each and every community involved."
Minister for culture, communications and creative industries Ed Vaizey added, "Mobile coverage can make a huge difference particularly to more rural and isolated communities. Vodafone's Open Sure Signal technology offers communities the chance to transform their lives by bringing them technology many of us take for granted.
"I urge people to work together with their MPs to take this opportunity and bring mobile coverage to their homes." µ