Press Release | 03 May 2016


  • Vodafone UK lights up rural Kent community with reliable 3G coverage for the first time.
  • Iwade is the first Kentish community to be connected in Vodafone’s Rural Open Sure Signal programme.
  • ROSS units across all communities are already taking an average of over 500 mobile calls and supporting over 30,000 data sessions a day.
  • Part of approximately £2 billion Vodafone is spending on its UK network and services in the UK.

Vodafone UK has announced the community of Iwade as the latest area in a rural mobile not-spot location to receive 3G coverage with Vodafone’s Rural Open Sure Signal programme.

The ROSS programme is a national initiative by Vodafone UK to provide reliable mobile access to up to 100 rural communities in mobile not-spot locations. Launched in July 2014, with support from local MPs, councils and rural action groups, the programme received an overwhelming response, with over 40 communities now live across the country from the Shetland Islands to Cornwall and from the mountains of Snowdonia to the Norfolk coast.

Mobile connectivity plays a vital role in keeping communities in touch and helps support local economies. However, rural and remote locations often miss out on advantages provided by modern communication tools, due to the complexity of delivering network coverage. This can be because of the geography of the area or difficulties with planning permissions in places of outstanding natural beauty.

The ROSS programme uses innovative ‘femtocell’ technology to provide an alternative solution to bring 3G mobile access in locations where it isn’t possible for networks to provide coverage through traditional means. The unit, about the size of a cereal box, is connected to local buildings including pubs, village halls and private residences to bring reliable 3G coverage across the community.

Jorge Fernandes, Vodafone UK Chief Technology Officer, said: “I am delighted that Iwade has joined our Rural Open Sure Signal programme. Mobile connectivity is an essential service for communities and businesses to thrive in today’s digital world and support local economies. As part of the Rural Open Sure Signal programme, we are committed to investing in our network to provide access even in remote locations where it is otherwise almost impossible to reach. The number of calls and data sessions the units are supporting every day, where there was marginal coverage previously, shows the significant benefit the technology is making to members of these communities. I am excited to see the transformation for Iwade and other communities which have been successful for this pioneering programme.”

Gordon Henderson, MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey commented: “Being able to communicate quickly and effectively by mobile phone or the internet is something that most people take for granted. However, there are many rural communities who do not have that ability because of the lack of a signal. Iwade is such a community, so I am delighted that Vodafone has chosen the village to become the first place in Kent to be part of their Rural Open Sure Signal programme and will now have access to a decent 3G internet connection. There are a number of other communities in my constituency, including the east end of Sheppey, where mobile phone reception is very poor, or non-existent, and I very much hope that at some time in the future more of our villages will be included in the programme so that they too can benefit from what is a very exciting initiative. Well done Vodafone!”

Matt Gale, Village Champion for Iwade commented: “The lack of a mobile signal has always been an issue within our community and I am proud to have delivered the Rural Open Signal ‎project with Vodafone to Iwade and hope that at least some of our residents have benefited. I would like to thank Jamie Dicker of Iwade Garage, Samantha Toms of Iwade Medical Centre, Jim Fisher of Iwade School and resident Jon Roberts for their assistance and support in the project.”

As well as using Rural Open Sure Signal to plug rural “not-spots”, Vodafone is investing heavily in its network and services across the country.  This includes the provision of HD (High Definition) Voice technology on its 3G network and the extension of its 4G coverage to over 800 cities and towns and thousands of smaller communities across the UK. Further ROSS communities will be announced over the few months. For more information on the programme, visit

For more information please contact

Vodafone UK Media Relations

01635 693693

Notes to editors:

  • Launch event photos available on request.

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester and now have 5G in locations across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain as well as the UK. Meanwhile, our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. Vodafone is the largest provider of full fibre in the UK – our superfast broadband services are now available to nearly 12 million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

Telephone: +44 (0) 1635 693 693


Twitter: @VodafoneUKNews


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