EE, O2, Three and Vodafone sign up to the Shared Rural Network

Oliver Dowden, the UK government’s digital secretary, has confirmed the Shared Rural Network proposal has now been signed by ministers and mobile network operators.

Under the terms of the deal, EE, O2, Three and Vodafone will invest in a network of new and existing phone masts. This will provide strong 4G coverage in rural areas regardless of what network provider is being used. The network of masts will be overseen by a jointly owned company called Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited.

DCMS says the Shared Rural Network will provide guaranteed coverage to 280,000 premises and 16,000km of roads. In addition, the government says the deal will lead to increases in coverage in some areas by more than a third, with the biggest coverage improvements in rural parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Scotland has its own scheme to improve rural mobile coverage – the Scottish 4G Infill Programme – whereby WHP Telecoms Ltd, the Scottish Government’s supplier in the programme, will build masts that all mobile network operators can use. The first site under that programme went live last month. It is not clear how the two programmes will work together.

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