February 24, 2021

UPDATE: All four nations of the United Kingdom are set to benefit from a major investment via the Shared Rural Network.

Shared Rural Network, 4G, Mobile, Coverage, #BuildingMobileBritain
  • Update: Mobile operator EE to expand 4G in more than 500 areas in 2021 to improve rural connectivity.
  • Mobile operators O2, Vodafone and Three to build and share 222 mobile masts to boost 4G rural coverage.
  • All four nations of the United Kingdom set to benefit from new investment to eliminate Partial Not Spots.
  • This programme will deliver the first stage of the £1bn Shared Rural Networt.

All four operators have now announced plans to expand 4G coverage as part of the Shared Rural Network initiative to extend coverage in rural areas across the UK.

Following a recent announcement by O2, Three and Vodafone, mobile operator EE has also announced its own plans to upgrade in more that 500 areas in 2021 as part of the Shared Rural Network.

EE has upgraded its 4G network in 110 areas since the SRN deal was signed in March 2020 to bring improved connectivity to each UK nation. A further 469 upgrades will follow by the end of this year, meaning a total of 579 areas will benefit from extended EE 4G coverage by the end of 2021 – 333 in England, 132 in Scotland, 76 in Wales, and 38 in Northern Ireland.

Last week, in addition to the above, Mobile UK’s other members, O2, Three and Vodafone, announced that they will partner to build and share 222 new mobile masts to boost rural coverage across the United Kingdom and deliver the first stage of the Shared Rural Network (SRN).

This programme of investment will increase coverage in each of the UK nations. O2, Three and Vodafone's plans include 124 new sites to be built in Scotland, 33 in Wales, 11 in Northern Ireland, and 54 in England, with each operator leading on 74 of the new sites.

The construction of the new masts will commence in 2021 and is scheduled to be completed by 2024 in line with the agreement reached with the UK Government and Ofcom.

In addition to this privately funded SRN investment, the Government will also spend over £500m to go even further to eliminate areas where there is no 4G coverage from any operator. This will result in every mobile operator reaching 90% of UK landmass, with a combined coverage of 95%.

Notes for Editors:

  1. The Shared Rural Network is a £1bn programme to improve rural mobile coverage and was agreed by the mobile network operators, Government and Ofcom in March 2020. Funded by the mobile industry and Government, investment will be made in new and existing phone masts to increase all operators’ 4G coverage to at least 90% of UK landmass and their aggregate coverage to 95% by 2026. It will provide guaranteed coverage to an additional 280,000 premises and 16,000km of roads and boost 'in car’ coverage on around 45,000km of road and better indoor coverage in around 1.2m business premises and homes.
  2. In Northern Ireland the SRN will see 4G coverage rise to at least 85% of landmass from 75%; in Scotland it will rise to at least 74% from 42%; in England it will rise from 81% to 90%; and in Wales it will rise to at least 80% from 58%.
  3. The exact number and location of masts will be subject to finding suitable sites, obtaining power supply and backhaul and securing the necessary permissions through the planning system.
  4. For further information about the SRN click here.
  5. For further information from each of the mobile operators click here for EEThreeO2 and Vodafone.

About Building Mobile Britain

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Building Mobile Britain is a campaign created by Mobile UK seeking to work with national and local government, as well as interested industry groups to overcome the challenges we face with expanding the existing mobile networks, while also developing innovative services for customers.

See here for further information - or #BuildingMobileBritain

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Tel: 07887 911 076

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