O2, Three, and Vodafone have announced that they are partnering to build and share 222 mobile masts that will deliver 4G coverage to under-served rural areas. According to ISPReview, EE is not mentioned in today’s announcement because it already has coverage in the so-called Partial Not Spots - it will, however, ramp up participation in areas where there’s no coverage from any carrier.
The Shared Rural Network was announced back in March 2020 and aims to bring the four mobile carriers together to bring coverage to hard-to-reach rural areas. By 2025, the aim is to cover 95% of the country with 4G mobile connectivity. The biggest beneficiaries will be Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
According to the three carriers revealing their news today, the masts will begin construction this year and are scheduled for completion by 2024. Before each mast can be built, the firms will need to find suitable sites, get a power supply to each site, and get the necessary permissions to build the masts through the planning system.
Commenting on today’s news, UK government Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman said:
“I’m delighted to see major progress being made to banish ‘not spots’ of poor or patchy mobile coverage. This new infrastructure will unlock the potential of rural communities in all four nations and offer greater choice of fast and reliable 4G services.
As part of this new Shared Rural Network the government is also investing half a billion pounds on new masts in areas without any signal at all meaning no one is left behind.”
After the SRN has been fully implemented, 84% of the UK’s landmass will be served by 4G compared to today’s 67%. O2 said that Partial Not Spots will be virtually eliminated by 2025 and each mobile operator will serve at least 90% of the country with a combined coverage of 95%.