We have been working with Vodafone over the last few weeks to facilitate more 3G coverage in Shetland. Keen observers will remember last year Vodafone announced a number of new areas in Shetland were to benefit from their small cell (femtocell) technology. We made the case that Shetland communities would benefit greatly from having these cells. Unfortunately when it came to do the network design/deployment, Vodafone soon found out that the broadband service in the proposed areas were not capable of delivering enough bandwidth to support the service in a number of the proposed areas. That’s when we started complaining because Vodafone were only going to deploy on BT Openreach network and were (at that time) not considering other networks. We argued that Vodafone had received plenty of good PR (http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2015/01/vodafone-unveil-last-40-uk-rural-communities-3g-mobile-broadband.html) but were not delivering the service on the back of it. We told them that alternatives to Openreach were available in some of the areas they had ‘binned’. Now, the problem with huge organisations like Vodafone is that they like to keep things simple. They don’t really want to mix things up by having different delivery methods on different networks in different areas. Openreach is available all across the UK and Shetland Telecom (unfortunately) is not....After a very long (and sometimes stroppy) conversation they agreed to see what they could do. Thanks to some very positive contributions from the skilled techies at Vodafone, Shetland Telecom, Shetland Broadband and Shetland Islands Council.....they got a solution. Yesterday Aith went live and by the end of the week Fetlar will have 3G.
Historically, Shetland has always had a strong link with Vodafone..... Back in the days of analogue mobile, Shetland had a better service than most UK cities. When the move came to digital (2G), Vodafone were the first to upgrade their cells and the good relationship Shetland had with Vodafone continued. To this day, Vodafone has the best coverage (by area at least).
However, with the recent EE announcement of 4G plans for Shetland (http://www.shetnews.co.uk/news/12339-ee-to-offer-4g-network-to-majority-of-the-islands ) and the 3G coverage of the other networks increasing, Vodafone are going to have to step up to the plate or lose their customer base in Shetland. Shetland has upwards of 22,000 inhabitants and most of them currently have a Vodafone sim in their mobiles.
Hopefully the positives of working with the local resource we have in Shetland can result in Vodafone continuing to improve the service to their customers up here....and the same goes for all the mobile providers....we have the capability locally and we are here to help.
(my views are my own)