Vodafone has announced its aim to bring reliable mobile connections to some of the UK's most rural communities as it looks to eliminate so-called 'notspots'.
The operator has today launched a national programme that could connect up to a million people across the country using its Sure Signal technology, which uses small terminals called femtocells to provide a 3G signal in areas where traditional mobile coverage has been unable to reach.
The launch follows an initial trial of Sure Signal that saw 12 rural communities across the UK get connected for the very first time, greatly benefitting local businesses.
Villages and hamlets across the UK can apply for installation of Sure Signal now, with the scheme closing on October 14. Vodafone says that the first communities should be connected by the end of 2014.
The scheme is being backed by Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey, who has played a major part in the government's efforts to promote rural connectivity, claiming previously that super-fast broadband is "a key part" of the present and future success of the UK as a whole.
"Mobile coverage can make a huge difference, particularly to more rural and isolated communities," Vaizey said of today's launch.
"Vodafone's 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."
Jeroen Hoencamp, chief executive officer of Vodafone UK, said rural communities could see a real boost from being connected to mobile internet, with the benefits being both economic and social.
"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," he said.
"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."
The launch is the latest part of a major push by Vodafone to expand its network across the country as it looks to cover 98% of the population with its 2G,3G or 4G networks in the next few years. The company says it have spent more than £1 billion on its network and services across the country this year, including extending its 4G coverage to 259 cities and towns and thousands of smaller communities across the UK.