The Shared Rural Network

What is the Shared Rural Network (SRN)?

Under the SRN proposal, a joint venture would be formed between all four Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and the Government to deliver significantly improved 4G coverage to rural parts of the United Kingdom. The proposals also go further than Ofcom’s current proposed coverage obligations which would take two operators to 90% of the geography whereas the SRN would take all four to 92% delivering an aggregate coverage to 95%.

The SRN will extend coverage in the most cost-effective, efficient, timely and environmentally friendly way for consumers and businesses in these remote rural communities.

Key Benefits

  • Significantly extends 4G coverage to rural areas up to 92% for all four MNOs and helps address the digital divide by providing enhanced connectivity across the whole of the United Kingdom.
  • Eliminates the substantial majority of the country’s partial not-spots and increases competition for mobile services, especially in rural areas.
  • Delivers on the Government’s 95% coverage manifesto commitment to extend coverage across the country.
  • Improved road coverage, including through re-use of the Home Office-built EAS sites – the MNOs are committed to providing on-road coverage to at least an additional 16,000km of road.
  • Improved and extended coverage with minimum environmental impact and without the need for expansive duplicate infrastructure
  • Will ensure that the UK has one of, if not the best mobile coverage in Europe

How the Shared Rural Network will work?

The SRN proposal is made up of all three elements which will take place concurrently:

  • The Partial Not Spot (PNS) Element – all four MNOs have committed to an industry-funded expansion of coverage to at least 88% of the UK’s geography. This phase will help eliminate partial not-spots via a programme of site-swaps and sharing on existing infrastructure.
  • The Extended Area Service (EAS) Element - the MNOs will site share on the planned Home Office-built EAS sites (built for the Emergency Services Network (ESN) programme) to improve coverage from 88% to 90%.
  • The Total Not Spot (TNS) Element – coverage will be extended further to 90% to 92% of geography via a publicly funded scheme in areas that are not commercially viable to MNOs. It will involve new site builds in key areas based on population, transport routes, and tourist hotspots. This then provides an aggregate coverage (from at least one MNO(s)) of 95%.

How will the SRN be funded?

The SRN will be a £1 billion jointly funded proposal by industry and Government. This includes an investment of £530 million from the UK’s mobile operators to open up and share existing masts and infrastructure, with HMG providing a further £500 million to fund coverage for the most remote rural locations.

What are the obligations on the Mobile Network Operators

The MNOs will underpin the delivery of this programme through legally-binding changes to their spectrum licences, including commitments to coverage for roads, premises and in each of the nations of the UK.

Shared Rural Network – The National Picture

Shared Rural Network

Timescales

Under current proposals, the SRN is expected to be completed by 2025.

For further information, please contact:

Gareth Elliott, Head of Policy and Communications, Mobile UK

ge@mobileuk.org, 07887 911 076

[1] Ofcom, Connected Nations 2019 Summer Update