As the South West prepares for world leaders and a busy summer – last year, two million tourists visited Cornwall between July and October – Vodafone has invested across the region to ensure its residents, businesses and visitors have access to the latest mobile technology and improved connectivity. It is also providing the fixed line connectivity for the 2021 G7 Summit, being held in Carbis Bay from 11-13 June.
Newquay’s Fistral Beach and St Keverne on the Lizard can now enjoy fast Vodafone 4G mobile internet, thanks to the latest 4G technology called OpenRAN. The two Cornwall locations are only the second and third Vodafone OpenRAN sites to go live in the UK; and hundreds more rural communities in the South West are set to benefit from the technology by 2027.
OpenRAN technology allows telecoms operators to change the way they build and manage networks, making it more flexible and cost-efficient. In the future, this will benefit Vodafone’s customers in rural communities, as well as helping Vodafone improve the network’s energy efficiency.
Other Vodafone initiatives in the South West region are also bringing benefits to communities and businesses. For example, Vodafone 5G is now available in Plymouth and on the Isles of Scilly; improved coverage along the A30 – from West London to Land’s End – means 4G is now available on over 99% of the route; and the forthcoming installation of a 5G mobile private network (MPN) at Plymouth Sound will enable businesses and academics to incorporate connectivity within product research and development.
In addition, Vodafone Foundation has donated £360,000 to the award-winning PK Porthcurno museum over the last three years. Originally a telegraph station site for Cable & Wireless, it is located next to the beach where the first undersea telegraph cable arrived in the UK in 1870.
Despite being the UK’s premium staycation location, the ONS ranks the South West one of the areas most impacted by the Digital Divide (4th); and 20 of its neighbourhoods are in the 10% most deprived locations in the UK.
As part of Vodafone’s commitment to tackle digital exclusion across the UK, it today announced a partnership with charity partner Good Things Foundation to donate free mobile connectivity for a year to 15 community organisations across the South West and so give local residents a hub where they can get online for free.
This follows its schools.connected programme, which distributed 350,000 SIMs to schools and colleges across the UK, including more than 20,000 to the South West. The emergency package helped pupils who couldn’t access education from home because they didn’t have access to connectivity.
Helen Milner, Chief Executive at Good Things Foundation, said: “COVID 19 and a year of lockdown, shielding and self-isolation has shown just how important being connected is. People who are offline are missing out on access to online services, health information and the important chance to connect with friends and family. We’re delighted to be working with Vodafone to help people across the South West get online by providing free connectivity to community organisations, who are a vital resource in ensuring people to get and stay connected.”
Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer at Vodafone UK, said: “Our roots in Cornwall and the South West go back a long way. From our investment in and around historic Porthcurno to brand new OpenRAN technology being installed at Fistral Beach and St Keverne, we are committed to investing in Cornwall and connecting its people and businesses. And it’s brilliant to see Vodafone is using its tech and connectivity to help tackle the digital divide in the South West where we are providing free connectivity to community and youth centres across the region in partnership with Good Things Foundation.”