Staylittle is more than a case study – it is a snapshot of the reality of living with poor coverage in rural areas, and the economic, social and emotional impact for it’s community.
In August 2015, Staylittle was labelled the most cut-off village in the UK with no mobile or fixed line connection. O2 responded by installing a temporary mast – reconnecting the village until planning permission for a permanent mast was granted over a year later. In early May 2017, O2 installed a permanent mast to deliver not only 2G, but also 3G and 4G – allowing the 147 residents of Staylittle to fully participate in the digital world. Because O2 listened.
Filming in Staylittle was challenging but great fun! It was cold, wet, remote and had poor connectivity – cutting us off from S+H HQ and being able to call our families – so we went a bit native… joining the locals in the pub and staying in a local cottage (much easier than the nearest hotel 9 miles away).
We had driven for 5 hours in the beast (the S+H Landrover) to get up to Staylittle, and it’s a good thing we had, as we had some serious off-roading and hills to contend with.
We’re used to good mobile phone signal and super-fast broadband. Spending time with the community of Staylittle, we understood first hand the limiting factors of poor coverage to businesses, communities and individuals in rural areas.
I think the key emotive outcome for me was that not everyone in rural areas is a NIMBY –rural dwellers want connectivity. The villagers were not unhappy about having a mast on the landscape – they understood the need for good mobile communications. They have a desire to be connected that outweighs outdated perceptions.