The SRN is an agreement between BT (EE), Vodafone, Three and O2, which aims to extend 4G mobile broadband to 95 per cent of the UK by 2025. These mobile network operators (MNOs) will share masts in certain areas, and collaborate to build new masts in order to spread coverage. However, some elements of the SRN are still being decided, including how much will be charged by each operator to allow their fellow MNOs to access existing sites.
One such issue has arisen with BT, which tends to have more infrastructure in terms of masts in remote, rural areas. Therefore, it is assumed that the business will propose higher costs to its competitors. As an executive from O2 suggests in the article, there are fears the fees ‘may undermine the viability of the project’, and that it may be cheaper for operators to build their own masts. BT is reportedly planning on charging 250 per cent more than the existing commercial rate for rivals to access 320 yet-to-be-built masts which will be included in the agreement.
All MNOs involved in the project have reportedly expressed a desire to ‘reach a final deal and get it implemented’ before the next Budget is held on 11th March. The SRN could otherwise be hampered by delays, or result in the Government returning to the ‘Rural Roaming’ solution that has previously been proposed, which could see the stifling of future investment in rural areas.
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