Operators agree on deal to end poor mobile coverage in rural areas

What Mobile
March 9, 2020

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to confirm plans to invest £5 billion into faster broadband

The UK’s four major mobile operators have agreed a deal with the government to end poor mobile phone coverage in rural areas.

The Shared Rural Network will see EE, O2, Three and Vodafone work together to invest in new and existing phone masts to improve mobile phone coverage.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £1 billion deal with firms to boost 4G coverage and the deal will see network combined coverage reach 95 per cent of the UK by the end of 2025.

Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales will experience the biggest improvements with over 280,000 properties set to benefit from improved phone signals.

O2 CEO Mark Evans said: “I’m proud of the work we’ve done to secure the Shared Rural Network agreement, ensuring customers living in rural areas will be able to get the fast and reliable coverage they need and deserve.

“The collaboration between the industry, government and Ofcom should be seen as a leading example of how to deliver infrastructure investment and we look forward to now rolling the Shared Rural Network out as quickly as possible.”

Uswitch head of regulation Richard Neudegg said: “It’s encouraging to see the Government and industry coming up with a solution to solve rural not spots.

“This is a welcome and ambitious course of action to resolve a situation that affects the lives of so many people.

“At present, only two thirds of the UK has 4G coverage from all four main providers outdoors, so bringing coverage to 95 per cent of the country by 2025 is a big improvement.

“While potentially exciting, there are still some potential bumps in the road, with earlier this year some providers debating how the cost-sharing would work in practice.

“It is important that the government maintain pressure on network providers to prevent these sorts of hiccoughs delaying the implementation.

“Competitive independence between providers is normally the right way to ensure the best possible deal for consumers, but for rural areas this hasn’t closed the gap in consumer experience.

“This solution could greatly improve the coverage for residents in rural areas, while giving them a wider choice of networks and tariff options.”

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