Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Deal signed to end patchy 4G coverage

A map from O2 showing gaps in 4G mobile coverage

 

The UK's mobile network providers have signed a £1bn to bring 4G coverage to rural areas.

The Shared Rural Network aims to extend 4G coverage to 95 percent of the UK – no matter which network customers use – by 2025.

The taxpayer will foot half the bill. The government said faster services would benefit small businesses and that it will "spur economic growth and close the digital divide across the country through better connectivity."

The Shared Rural Network will see EE, O2, Three and Vodafone investing in a network of new and existing phone masts, overseen by a jointly owned company called Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited.

It will provide guaranteed coverage to 280,000 premises and 16,000km of roads. Swathes of rural Wiltshire are poorly served by 4G coverage, with large 'not spots' around Avebury, Market Lavington, Warminster, and Ludgershall.

Digital secretary Oliver Dowden said: "For too many people in the countryside a bad phone signal is a daily frustration. So today we’re delivering on the Prime Minister’s 100-day promise to get a £1 billion landmark deal signed with industry to end poor and patchy mobile rural coverage.

"This is an important milestone to level up the country, improve people’s lives and increase prosperity across the length and breadth of our United Kingdom."

The legally binding coverage commitments will be enforced by Ofcom, which will have the power to issue fines up to 10 per cent of an operator’s gross revenue if they fail to meet their targets.