VILLAGERS in Ewyas Harold can now call their friends or find out the latest news after improved mobile phone coverage was brought to the area.

New open sure signals have been placed on top of the Dog Inn pub, the doctor's surgery and the village primary school by telecommunications giant Vodafone to bring 3G coverage to the village.

Ewyas Harold is one of only 12 places across the country to trial the "community-led network" after it was deemed to be a "mobile not-spot".

The open sure signals will also provide access to the internet via mobile phones, as well as 3G voice services.

"It will give more people a choice as to what mobile provider they want to be with," said Richard Baker, a community first responder from Rowlestone.

"I will certainly consider changing to Vodafone because the coverage will be better."

Councillor Graham Powell, ward member for Ewyas Harold, said that the impact of poor connectivity on rural communities has been increasing as technology develops.

"Effective communications is at the heart of the community and its prosperity, which is why we are trying hard to ensure that Herefordshire is at the forefront of new developments," said Coun Powell.

"Ewyas Harold has struggled with poor mobile connectivity for too long and we are already seeing the benefits of having a strong Vodafone 3G signal."

Aleyne Johnson, senior government affairs manager at Vodafone UK, said that Ewyas Harold has shown how partnership with the local community and MP is the answer to "not-spot" mobile problems.

"Interest in our rural mobile coverage trials has been phenomenal, with communities crying out for the better mobile coverage they need to boost the local economy," said Mr Johnson.

"We're delighted that Ewyas Harold is among them and that the community will be able to benefit from the advantages that this Vodafone service will bring."

Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman added that he hopes that better mobile coverage can now reach as far as Longtown.