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O2, Three and Vodafone agree deal to boost 4G in rural areas

Paul Lipscombe
January 27, 2021

EE will join the second stage of the Shared Rural Network

Three of the UK operators have agreed to build and share 222 new mobile masts in a bid to boost rural coverage across the UK as part of the first stage of the Shared Rural Network (SRN).

O2, Three and Vodafone have agreed to partner up to the programme that will deliver the first stage of the £1 billion Shared Rural Network.

EE has come out and said it’s not needed at this stage but will be involved in the second stage. The operator cited that it’s built over 600 new rural sites in the past few years.

The investment will benefit all four UK nations, with 124 new sites to be built in Scotland, 33 in Wales, 11 in Northern Ireland and 54 in England.

Each operator will take the lead on 74 of the new sites.

The construction of the new masts will begin this year and is due to be completed by 2024, in accordance to an agreement reached with the UK government and Ofcom.

The CEO’s of the three operators said that this phase of the SRN will set out to eliminate partial not spots and unlock the benefits of 4G in remote rural areas.

“The new investment will extend the proportion of UK landmass where all mobile networks provide 4G services from 67 per cent to 84 per cent, and virtually eliminate Partial Not Spots (PNSs) – areas where at least one, but not all four of the UK’s mobile networks provide 4G coverage,” said a joint statement from O2, Three and Vodafone.

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