About the Shared Rural Network

What is the Shared Rural Network (SRN)?

The Shared Rural Network (SRN) is transforming mobile coverage, countrywide. The project was developed by the UK’s four mobile network operators (MNOs) with support from Government. The programme will make 4G mobile broadband available to 95% of the UK. The operators expect this will extend mobile coverage to an additional 280,000 premises and for people in cars on an additional 16,000km of the UK’s roads, boosting productivity and investment in rural areas.

The project consists of MNOs investing to extend their coverage by upgrading their existing networks, working together on shared infrastructure and building new sites, with new government-funded masts being built to target areas with no mobile coverage from any operator. Through its work, the SRN will increase the parts of the UK that get a mobile service from all operators from 66% to 84%, improving consumer choice.

Each of the MNOs’ individual networks will cover 90% of the UK, enabling rural businesses and communities to thrive.

The Shared Rural Network – An Overview

Programme Milestones

  • Radio Plan Submissions - 31st July 2020
    As per licence obligations MNOs will submit their initial radio plans to Ofcom. These plans will be subject to change as more work is undertaken to assess the feasibility of sites.
  • Following agreement of initial radio plans
    Each MNO will start ther Partial Not Spot (PNS) roll-out. This refers to areas where one or more but not all mobile operators currently provide 4G coverage.
  • Following State Aid approval
    Total Not Spots (TNS) site aquisition begins. This refers to the areas with no 4G coverage from any mobile operator and is the element of the programme that is publicly funded.

The Shared Rural Network – The Benefits

More videos about the Shared Rural Network can be found by clicking here.

Questions and Answers about the SRN

How will the 95% coverage target be reached?

To deliver the programme, the mobile network operators (MNOs) will invest in upgrading their existing network, shared infrastructure and new phone masts. This will eliminate the majority of partial not-spots - areas where there is currently coverage from at least one, but not all operators.

The Government is providing additional investment to eliminate total not-spots - those hard-to-reach areas where there is currently no coverage from any operator.

Combined, this will result 95% of the country receiving good 4G coverage from at least one operator, boosting productivity and investment in rural areas.

When will improvements be delivered?

The full benefits of the SRN will be delivered by 2026, but we anticipate that rural areas around the UK will start to see improvements to 4G coverage long before its completion.

The roll out programme and timings for delivery are currently in development and will be published in due course.

What is 4G?

Fourth generation mobile services, known as 4G, give people faster access to the internet and make it much quicker to surf the web on your mobile, tablets and laptops.

Rural businesses will be able to work more efficiently, for example by accepting electronic payments, being in better contact with potential and existing clients, and facilitating flexible and remote working for their employees.

What is a partial and total mobile not-spot?

A partial mobile not-spot is a geographic area served by at least one, but not all four mobile network operators (MNOs). Currently 66% of the UK is served by all four operators with 4G.

A total mobile not-spot is a geographic area that receives no 4G coverage from any MNO. Currently 9% of the UK, by geography, is in a 4G total not spot.

Where can I find out which areas already have 4G coverage, and which are in partial or total not-spots?

You can find out the available coverage from the four mobile network operators (MNOs) in any given area using Ofcom’s mobile coverage checker. You can also visit the 4G coverage checkers on each of the mobile operators’ websites.

EE: https://coverage.ee.co.uk/coverage/ee
Three: http://www.three.co.uk/Discover/Network/Coverage
O2: https://www.o2.co.uk/coveragechecker
Vodafone: https://www.vodafone.co.uk/network/status-checker

How can I find out when my area will get improved 4G service?undefined

As part of the programme, each of the mobile network operators will individually reach 90% geographic 4G coverage by 2026. Collectively, this will provide 4G coverage by at least one operator to 95% of the UK.

The roll out programme and timings for delivery are currently in development and will be published in due course.

For more information about how the SRN programme will impact your constituents and how you can support the SRN in your area, please contact the mobile network operators’ representative body, Mobile UK.

What happens if I am not a customer of the four, big mobile service companies - EE, O2, Three and Vodafone?

EE, O2, Three and Vodafone are the only mobile network operators (MNOs) in the UK that have a physical network.

Any other mobile providers will be using one of these four mobile operators’ networks to offer mobile services to their customers through that MNO’s network. Improving mobile coverage for the four MNOs means improved mobile coverage for customers of all mobile service providers.

Coverage  improvements

What percentage of the country will get coverage from all four operators and by when?

All four mobile network operators (MNOs) - EE, O2, Three and Vodafone - are working together to deliver combined geographic coverage from at least one operator to 95% of the landmass of the UK by 2026.

Individually, each operator will reach 90% geographic coverage. This will result in 84% of the UK having 4G coverage from all four operators, up from 66% in 2020.

People living in Scotland and Wales will see the biggest coverage improvements because the landmass coverage in these nations is starting from a lower base

What will be the impact of the SRN in Scotland?

In Scotland, the SRN will see 4G coverage from all four operators rise to a minimum of 74%, up from 42% in 2020, and coverage from at least one MNO increase to 91%, allowing rural business to prosper and rural communities to thrive.

What will be the impact of the SRN in Wales?

In Wales, the SRN will see 4G coverage from all four operators rise to a minimum of 80%, up from 58% in 2020, and coverage from at least one MNO increase to 95%, allowing rural business to prosper and rural communities to thrive.

What will be the impact of the SRN in Northern Ireland?

In Northern Ireland, the SRN will see 4G coverage from all four operators rise to a minimum of 85%, up from 75% in 2020, and coverage from at least one MNO increase to 98%, allowing rural business to prosper and rural communities to thrive.

What will be the impact of the SRN in England?

In England, the SRN will see 4G coverage from all four operators rise to a minimum of 90%, up from 81% in 2020, and coverage from at least one MNO increase to 98%, allowing rural business to prosper and rural communities to thrive.

Why are the targets lower for Scotland and Wales?

The SRN will see both Scotland and Wales get the greatest boost to 4G coverage from all four mobile network operators, from 42% to 74%, and 58% to 80%, of landmass respectively, improving coverage where people live, work and travel.

Funding

How much will it cost?

The SRN will be funded jointly by the mobile network operators (MNOs) and the Government. Collectively, the MNOs will contribute £532 million to the SRN, in order to address partial not-spots, a geographic area with 4G coverage from least one, but not all four mobile network operators. The Government will invest an additional £500m to provide new mobile masts in areas with no 4G coverage.

Environmental considerations

What will be the environmental impact of the SRN?

By sharing infrastructure, the SRN will reduce the carbon footprint associated with achieving improved mobile coverage, because fewer mobile sites will need to be installed, operated and maintained than would otherwise be the case. What’s more, by providing better mobile connectivity to rural businesses, more services can be digitised in rural areas, reducing the carbon footprint of businesses. For example, business owners can increase the number of virtual meetings, reduce the number of face-to-face meetings and cut back on unnecessary travel.

How will you minimise the impact on the rural landscape?

To provide 4G coverage to areas where people do not have it today - typically in more rural areas - new mobile masts will have to be built. Under the SRN, new masts will be shared between multiple network operators, reducing the number of new masts required overall, and minimising the impact on the landscape. Operators will also be upgrading sites to deliver more coverage from their existing network.  To achieve the same coverage targets without sharing infrastructure would require a far greater number of masts to be built.

All new mast developments will follow local planning processes.

Shared Rural Network logo
Building Mobile Britain logo

For further information, please contact:

Gareth Elliott, Head of Policy and Communications, Mobile UK

ge@mobileuk.org, 07887 911 076