Staylittle goes from dark spot to internet hot spot

Published date: 09 June 2017 |
Published by: Owain Farrington 
Read more articles by Owain Farrington  Email reporter


 

ONE of the most remote communities in Britain finally has mobile internet coverage after years of issues including a communication blackout in 2015.

Historically Staylittle has relied on landlines and satellite internet but the 150 residents wrote a letter asking O2 for help and now the telecommunications giant has  switched on the area’s first 4G mast.

Particularly thankful to be connected is resident Becky Williams.

Mrs Williams runs the online business Kids Closet and her husband also works abroad.

She said: “We were on satellite internet and it was always diabolical. Now we’ve got 4G I can put a data hotspot on my phone. It has made life a lot easier.

“In regards to communications you couldn’t use Skype or Face Time before. Signal was just bad all round,  I was quite aware that I was probably missing out on a lot of orders.

“Now it’s like you’re actually connected to the outside world, it’s amazing.”

The Williams family moved to Staylittle five years ago and their daughter attends a local school.

“We moved here from the Midlands,” added Mrs Williams.

“I didn’t even think to check the mobile and phone signals, when I got here, I just thought, oh my gosh.

“Quite a few of us from the community approached O2 to see what they could do. They got the mast up and it has been brilliant.”

Every day Mrs Williams had to travel to her mother’s house in Llanidloes simply to check her emails and operate her business.

But despite the past inconveniences with communications, Mrs Williams has never regretted moving to Staylittle.

She said: “It’s lovely up here and it is a lovely way of life.

“The people are all really nice. I’ll drive up to the post office and everyone waves or stops to say hello.

“Whenever people come down to stay they always say how beautiful it is.”

In the Summer of 2015, Staylittle experienced a total communication blackout, leaving the village completely cut off from the outside world for nearly two weeks.

With the nearest town eight miles away, Staylittle relied on one working landline in the Post Office to keep in touch with family, friends and customers.

In response, O2 installed a temporary 2G mobile mast in the village in 2015, enabling voice calls and texts in Staylittle for the first time.

Brendan O’Reilly, chief technology officer at O2, added: “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.

“Seeing what a difference being connected is already making to families and businesses in Staylittle has made this a memorable achievement, and one we are working hard to emulate  in other rural villages across Wales.”

Russell George, Assembly Member for Montgomeryshire and chairman of the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee, added: “It’s a huge, positive change for the village – a change that is guaranteed to improve the lives of those living in Staylittle, who can now go online with confidence, and connect with friends, family and colleagues through their mobile.”

  • See full story in the County Times

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