Shared Rural Network to boost coverage across the United Kingdom

People in rural Scotland, Wales and the North East of England will enjoy huge improvements in their mobile coverage thanks to the Shared Rural Network, a £1 billion mobile connectivity programme agreed between the country’s main mobile operators and the UK government?

This scheme is a major part of the government's plan to level up all parts of the UK and will bring economic and social benefits for people no matter where they live. 

Uplifts in 4G coverage will allow people to seize the benefits of technology to stay connected, shop online and stream entertainment on the go. It will also power economic growth, helping people set up and run businesses from anywhere in the UK. 

The Shared Rural Network (SRN) was agreed between the country’s biggest mobile network operators (MNOs) and the government and will see the firms sharing their masts to boost people’s mobile signals.  

It will close out so-called ‘partial not spots’: areas where some but not all MNOs provide 4G coverage.

The new maps and figures published reveal how much mobile coverage will increase in each region of the UK once the SRN is completed. 

Hamish MacLeod, Director at Mobile UK, said:

“The Shared Rural Network is a transformational project backed by a half a billion-pound investment from the mobile operators to extend coverage in rural areas across the country. Mobile operators have already started to deliver on this commitment, with new sites coming online in partial coverage areas. We are committed to providing a reliable 4G mobile signal to 95% of the UK’s landmass and improving the experience for people living, working and travelling in rural areas.”

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden MP said:

“We’re putting connecting people across the UK at the heart of our plan to build back better, through huge uplifts to mobile coverage in rural areas and the rapid rollout of gigabit broadband.
“Today’s announcements will improve the lives of millions of people in rural parts of Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland, giving them the connections they need to work, access services and keep in touch - both at home and on the go.”  

Mobile coverage

The SRN, an agreement signed between the UK Government and mobile operators, will see EE, O2, Three and Vodafone share a network of new and existing phone masts. It will bring an extra 280,000 premises and an additional 16,000 km of UK roads in range of a 4G signal - increasing total geographic 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by the end of 2025. 

Northern Ireland and England will both see a six per cent fall in partial not spots by the end of the scheme, with 4G coverage from at least one MNO reaching 98 per cent of their respective landmasses, with Wales hitting 95 per cent and Scotland 91 per cent.

The MNOs have already begun work as part of the deal to close the majority of partial not spots by mid-2024 and there have already been more than 700 sites announced so far this year to help close not spots across the UK.

In early 2022, the SRN programme will begin searching for, acquiring and building publicly funded masts in total not spots - areas that currently have no coverage from any operator - to be shared between all four MNOs.

- Further information from the Shared Rural Network can be found here


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