The Government has recently announced a much needed £1 billion deal to help enhance mobile connectivity in rural areas.
The deal, which includes all four mobile network operators EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, aims to get 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by 2025.
The Shared Rural Network Agreement
Under this plan the primary Mobile Network Operators (MNO) would work to establish a new organisation to deliver the SRN, backed by £532m (over the 20 year lifetime of the programme) of their own investment to help open-up and share existing masts / infrastructure to “close almost all partial not-spots” (i.e. areas where there is currently only coverage from at least one but not all operators).
In theory this would also mean additional mobile coverage for 280,000 premises and 16,000 kilometres of roads. As part of this the Government will also commit £500m of investment to go even further and “eliminate total not-spots” (i.e. hard-to-reach areas where there is currently no coverage from any operator) by supporting the build of new masts.
Government-owned mobile infrastructure built as part of the Emergency Services Network (ESN) “will also be made available to all four operators” (they make this sound new, but ESN masts were always intended for sharing). “This is expected to contribute to the coverage target by delivering up to an additional 2% of geographic coverage per operator, in some of the most remote, rural locations,” said the Government.
The benefits of all this will be felt across all four nations of the United Kingdom.