Three to turn village notspots into hotspots

Residents of notspots will be connected to the outside world thanks to an initiative supported by mobile broadband provider Three.

The snappily titled 'Rural Broadband Working Group' is also supported by the Countryside Alliance and Race Online.

9 million people across the country don't have access to decent fixed line broadband services because of their remote location.

The project will give free 3G access to homes and public spaces in 11 communities each serving just a few hundred people.

Of course, many places unable to access ADSL also have trouble with mobile broadband so the 11 will need to be just isolated enough and it'll be intriguing to see what they make of Three's speeds.

First to benefit

The first of the eleven communities to be provided with the dongles is Gringley-on-the-Hill in North Nottinghamshire.

The village is long overdue a half decent fixed line broadband service: it has a population of around 750 people and a local school.

The initiative will give Gringley at least 30 mobile broadband dongles and Mi-fi devices which will provide free quality internet access in public areas such as pubs and community centres.

It could be you

Together, the 'Rural Broadband Working Group' and local politicians will decide on another ten rural communities who will benefit from similar packages.

The Head of Policy for the Countryside alliance said, "Mobile internet access could be the answer to bridging the digital divide in the countryside and we, together with the other members of the Mobile Broadband Working Group, are looking forward to identifying communities that can really benefit from mobile broadband."

In other words: it could be you.

In particular, the working group will be looking for instances where Government has failed to provide access despite campaigning from local people.

The chairman of Gringley-on-the-Hill's parish council said that they had previously written to the several government bodies including the House of Lords, Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the local MP about the lack of broadband in the community.


But although the project seems rosy, some industry experts are cynical about Three's generosity.

"It's not as if Three is concerned about lack of access. It wants to show off how good its network is and lobby for more spectrum," said rent-a-cynic Jeremy Green of broadband provider Ovum.

As the UK's first 3G network, Three has expressed its desire to obtain the lower frequency spectrum that can offer better quality coverage than the spectrum it owns at the moment.

These lower frequency networks often perform better in rural areas as the signals broadcast more effectively in hilly areas.

Dave Dyson, Three's chief executive, believes that, if it does manage to get the spectrum, it can help solve the not-spot problem.

Many will argue that helping to solve is no good.

Mobile technology is unable to compete with fixed line connections on an even playing field; the system on offer from Three can only deliver an average of 2Mb, compared to 100Mb on some fast fibre optic fixed connections.

Please read our full disclaimer for important information that relates to the service we provide and your use of this site.

We aim to provide free reviews and comparisons of consumer products and to keep our editorial content as objective as possible. To keep the site free, we are paid by some providers when new customers take products after they've clicked on our links. We don't allow our editorial content to be affected by those links, however we may not include all of the products available in the market. Finally, we do not submit or process any applications for any products or services and we cannot guarantee that any product or service listed on this website will be available to you. Credit providers make the final decision on whether an application for credit will be accepted.

If you would like to get in touch with us you can contact us here.