£1 billion of investment to bring 4G coverage to 280,000 homes
The Shared Rural Network is now going ahead and of the four mobile networks by 2026 each should have 90% geographic access and a resulting 95% overall coverage.
The Government and mobile bosses met on the afternoon of 9th March to sign the deal with the operators bring £523 million to the table and £500 million from the Government. The money will be spent building new mobile masts to cover the various not spots with these shared masts owned by Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited which the mobile operators will all have a share in.
The estimate is that this will bring guaranteed coverage to another 280,000 premises, i.e. a cost of £3,571 per property but there is the bonus of improved coverage on 16,000 km of roads. It is thought that better in-door coverage may result for 1.2 million homes as a side-effect of the roll-out.
High-speed mobile connectivity is a central part of modern life whether you live and work in a city centre or in the countryside. Building out fast and reliable access to 4G across the country is a national mission and we’re playing a leading role, collaborating with government and the other mobile network operators in the UK, to make this happen. The Shared Rural Network is something we can all be proud of.Philip Jansen, Chief Executive, BT Group
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.Mark Evans, CEO of O2
The Shared Rural Network is a game-changer for the country with coverage from each of the four operators expanding to at least 90% of the UK’s geographyDave Dyson, CEO Three
A rural postcode should not be a barrier to receiving a decent mobile signal. Together, we have created a programme that is unmatched anywhere in the world. It will mean an end to mobile ‘not spots’ for people in the more remote areas whether they are at home, at work or on the move. We will now get on with the job of delivering it.Vodafone UK Chief Executive Officer, Nick Jeffer
The Shared Rural Network is fantastic news for people who live and work in our beautiful countryside. In making it happen we’ll listen to rural communities and strive to maximise the benefits it will bringBen Roome, CEO of Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited
The coverage figures are based on the definitions used by Ofcom which are: 'Ofcom defines coverage based on the minimum signal strength required to deliver a 95% probability of making a 90-second telephone call successfully completed, and a 95% chance of getting a download speed of at least 2Mbit/s.'
Verifying that the roll-outs are hitting their goals is a lot more complex than fixed line broadband, particularly when talking about geographic coverage, since to get you right you have to allow for variations in foliage coverage, weather and even a new building can cause a new not-spot. What we are likely to start seeing is more 4G speed tests in areas we have previously not seen them, our plan in the next couple of months is when people search on https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/postcode-search that we will add a specific mobile network observed speed figure rather than the combined average of today.
The challenge to date has been getting the mobile operators to reach agreement, but we suspect that the harder challenge lies ahead due to the growth of Stop 5G campaigns on facebook and other social media to a lesser extent. In short objections to mast building will either see masts located in sub optimal locations or mired in long planning battles.
The roll-out signed on Monday is about building the masts and deploying 4G initially so the millions of handsets will work, but once the dense urban 5G roll-outs are over we may see 5G appear on this new mast network, but most likely this will be using the 700 MHz frequency band which has been vacated by Freeview Digital TV channels. 5G in the 700 MHz band may just reach superfast speed definitions (24 to 30 Mbps) but this is made up for by the longer range the lower frequency provider.