Mobile UK Blog: Mobile Industry announces unprecedented Shared Rural Network

CCN Blogs | 12 November 2019

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Mobile connectivity has moved swiftly up the agenda to become a critical priority of this government, and this sense of urgency has also been apparent at a local level too. The mobile industry understands that its services, once considered a luxury, are now day to day necessity. However, while the technology has leapt forward recently from 3G to 4G, and today from 4G to 5G, 4G coverage from all four operators across the UK’s landmass stands at only 66%. The Government has set the goal that, this figure be increased to cover 95%.

The mobile industry has come together to match this ambition and recently announced an unprecedented initiative called the Shared Rural Network, or SRN. The SRN is a world first with EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, alongside the Government, proposing to invest £1 billion in new and existing phones masts which all will share. Consumers, residents and businesses can then rely on their own provider’s network wherever they are.

Under the proposal, the mobile network operators will invest £530 million to open up and share existing masts and infrastructure which will virtually eliminate ‘partial not-spots’, that is where there is currently coverage from at least one but not all operators. It would also mean additional mobile coverage for 280,000 premises and 16,000 kilometres of roads. Alongside the money invested by the mobile operators, the government will also commit up to £500 million to provide a 4G signal in the hardest-to-reach areas where there is currently no coverage, so that there will be coverage from one or more operators over at least 95% of the UK’s geography.

The SRN has drawn support from across the spectrum, including from rural groups, business groups and local authorities, all of whom will have a role to play in supporting the roll-out by offering locations for sites and supporting planning. New planning laws are being consulted on by Government to make deployment more efficient, cost-effective and quicker. Equally, public assets and local leadership in promoting and demanding mobile connectivity will be critical to ensure mobile infrastructure can be built for the benefit of all.

Mobile UK is delighted to be sponsoring the CCN Annual conference and colleagues will be present for you to discuss the Shared Rural Network and we are keen to hear from you.

Hamish MacLeod, Director, Mobile UK