A national programme giving businesses in up to 100 rural communities across the UK the opportunity to apply for mobile access for the first time is being launched today by Vodafone.

In rural locations across the UK it is sometimes not possible to install a traditional mast, whether for economic reasons or because of other factors such as it being in an area of natural outstanding beauty where planning permission would be difficult to obtain.

The initial trial saw 12 rural communities across the UK, from Walls in the Shetland Islands to Newton St Cyres in Devon, connected to the technology, giving almost 10,000 people reliable mobile connection for the first time. The 12 communities were chosen from more than 170 with mobile 'not-spots' across the UK.

About the size of a domestic broadband box, the units use existing broadband services to deliver the mobile signal needed to provide Vodafone 3G coverage, where before there was little or none. The units can be installed on the outside of any number of buildings including village halls, pubs, shops and homes across the community to ensure widespread Vodafone 3G mobile coverage.