The aptly-named Staylittle in Powys, Wales was once dubbed ‘the village that is cut off from the UK’, but now the rural community is celebrating its first permanent 4G mobile mast installed by O2, bringing high-speed mobile internet to the villagers as part of a plan that will see a further 395 Welsh villages connected by the end of the year.
In the summer of 2015, Staylittle experienced a total communication black-out, leaving the village almost completely cut off from the outside world for nearly two weeks. All that remained was a single working landline in the local Post Office, with the nearest town around 8 miles away.
In response, O2 installed a temporary 2G mobile mast in the village, bringing mobile connectivity for voice calls and texts to the community for the first time. Since then, the UK operator has worked with local authorities to install a permanent 4G mobile mast, providing coverage for the entire village.
“Having mobile internet access has already made a big difference to the local community,” said Becky Williams, a Staylittle resident who runs Kids Closet, a children’s clothing company. “We’re all very happy to be able to connect online with our family and friends – a luxury that is often taken for granted elsewhere in the UK.”
The installation is part of O2’s commitment to improving rural network coverage. The firm is investing over £2m a day to develop its network across the UK, and now boasts 96.8 per cent 4G coverage for the UK. By the end of the year, another 395 Welsh villages in remote areas will be provided with 4G mobile masts to strengthen their signal.
“At O2, we pride ourselves on listening to customers, but we also listen to communities who have yet to feel part of a digitally connected Britiain,” said Brendan O’Reilly, chief technology officer at O2. “Ever since we heard Staylittle’s story in 2015, we’ve worked tirelessly to get its residents to this point – where they can make calls and access the internet and social media on the move just like most of the country.”
“It’s a huge, positive change for the village – a chance that is guaranteed to improve the lives of those living in Staylittle, who can no go online with confidence, and connect with friends, family and colleagues through their mobile,” said Russell George, Assembly