3 promises wireless broadband for remote areas

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Carrier plans 3G access for notspots and eyes spectrum allocation

Mobile network 3 has offered to equip 11 rural areas with 3G broadband in a bid to fill in the UK's rural notspots, according to reports.

The mobile operator intends giving away wireless broadband dongles and a year's access to its 3G service as part of what it called a commitment to Government to improve connectivity in remote areas.

"We hope to demonstrate that mobile needs to be a crucial part of the strategy to tackle notspots," Hugh Davies, Three's director of corporate affairs, told the BBC, adding that the company would also set up public Wi-Fi hotspots in the local pubs and community centres.

According to 3, the service would provide average speeds of 2Mbits/sec, which matches the Government's universal service commitment target for rural areas, although it admitted bandwidth could drop below that figure at peak times.

Low-frequency spectrum on a network as big as ours is a real notspot-killer

Although the service might be seen as a boon by the communities supplied, starting with Gringley-on-the-Hill in North Nottinghamshire, the move was met with scepticism from analysts, with the suggestion that 3 could be attempting to garner favour with officials ahead of a major spectrum allocation next year.

3 has previously said it could use space in the 800MHz range to supply broadband over the airwaves, but it will be competing against other wireless providers for the right to operate at that frequency.

"We've built the UK's most extensive 3G network using high-frequency spectrum, 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,” 3 told the BBC.

“Low-frequency spectrum on a network as big as ours is a real notspot-killer."

We are awaiting a response from 3 for more details of the proposals.

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