Three and the Countryside Alliance today announced the launch of a project aimed at providing mobile broadband in rural areas of poor or non-existent coverage.
Three will give away around four million megabytes of free connectivity, alongside the dongles and MiFi’s needed to get people online. It has set up an organisation called the Rural Broadband Working Group, which will see the operator work with local politicians and the Countryside Alliance to identify rural broadband ‘not-spots’.
The project, which will also involve input from Race Online 2012, is aimed at helping communities, families and businesses in rural areas that, while not served by fixed-line broadband providers, do have access to Three’s high-speed mobile Internet network.
The first wave of activity will see the group working with local political influencers to identify eleven rural communities, and to provide free mobile broadband data and devices for a year. In addition, free public access will be provided in communal areas such as pubs and community centres using a MiFi device.
As well as the social and educational benefits broadband brings, the initiative will also help local communities save thousands of pounds each year, with research by the post office suggesting families with broadband access can save up to £840 every 12-months by being connected
The first village to receive free connectivity is Gringley-on-the-Hill in North Nottinghamshire. The village of around 750 people, which has poor quality access to fixed-line broadband services, will get around 30 mobile broadband dongles and MiFi devices. Some of these will provide access in the local pub and community centre.