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Three has announced plans to give away 3G broadband to rural areas which are struggling to get fixed line internet services.

The mobile broadband specialist is initially planning to give away free dongles and access for a year to 11 communities across the UK.

According to Three, the scheme is designed to assist with the government's Digital Britain plans – the Con-Lib coalition is aiming to provide nationwide 2Mb broadband by 2015.

Villagers in Gringley-on-the-Hill in north Nottinghamshire will be the first to benefit from the scheme, receiving 30 dongles and free broadband access for 12 months.

Three is also to establish public wireless broadband hotspots in the local pub and community centre.

A further ten communities are to benefit from the broadband provider's 3G services. They will be selected by a working group consisting of the Countryside Alliance, Race Online and Three.

"We hope to demonstrate that mobile needs to be a crucial part of the strategy to tackle notspots," said Hugh Davies, Three's Director of Corporate Affairs.

However, critics have claimed that Three is seeking to prove the strength of its 3G network in order to lobby the government for additional spectrum.

Three has been seeking additional lower-frequency spectrum for some time, with the firm's Chief Executive Officer Dave Dyson explaining its importance to the broadband provider.

"We've built the UK's most extensive 3G network using high-frequency spectrum, if we gain access to low-frequency spectrum like 800Mhz we will be able to significantly improve both indoor and outdoor rural coverage," he stated.

"Low-frequency spectrum on a network as big as ours is a real notspot-killer."

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