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Mobile networks are banding together to bring coverage to rural areas

EE, O2, Three and Vodafone have joined forces to deliver strong 4G coverage to the rural areas they might have previously neglected.

Ministers and bosses from mobile network operators met last week to sign the £1 billion deal they hope will eliminate poor and patchy coverage in rural parts of the UK, the government announced last week.

The deal – titled the Shared Rural Network (or SRN) – will allow 95% of the nation to access strong 4G coverage regardless of which network they’re on by 2025, bringing guaranteed coverage to 280,000 premises and 16,000km of roads as well as improvements to ‘in car’ coverage and wider indoor coverage for over one million homes and offices looking forward.

The SRN could boost coverage in some areas by more than a third, with rural parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales set to see the largest improvements.

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EE, O2, Three and Vodafone have teamed up to build the network of new and existing phone masts the four plan to share in rural areas. The masts will be overseen by the operators’ jointly owned company, Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited.

The four networks operators have signed legally binding contracts backed by £500 million of government funding, meaning Ofcom can enforce the goals of the SRN – and fine any operator 10% of their gross revenue if they fail to meet those targets.

Related: 5G in the UK: Everything worth knowing about EE, Vodafone and O2’s service

“A rural postcode should not be a barrier to receiving a decent mobile signal”, said Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffrey.

“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”.

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