O2, Three and Vodafone agree new deal to enhance Wales' Rural Coverage

  • Mobile operators to build and share 33 masts in Wales to boost 4G rural coverage.
  • All four nations of the United Kingdom set to benefit from new investment to eliminate Partial Not Spots.
  • This programme will deliver the first stage of the £1bn Shared Rural Network.

O2, Three and Vodafone will partner to build and share 33 mobile phone masts in Wales to improve coverage in rural areas, including Pembrokeshire, Snowdonia National Park, the Brecon Beacons and Powys.  When completed, the Shared Rural Network* (SRN) will have increased 4G coverage across Wales to at least 80% of landmass from 58%.

This programme of investment is part of the first stage of the SRN – a £1bn programme to improve rural mobile coverage across the UK that was agreed by the mobile network operators, Government and Ofcom in March 2020.

The construction of the new masts will commence in 2021 and is scheduled to be completed by 2024 in line with the agreement reached with the UK Government and Ofcom.

The three mobile operators will now engage with local stakeholders and other key parties to ensure a timely and efficient roll out that unlocks the benefits of 4G for these rural communities offering customers in very remote areas increased choice and fuller value from their contracts where they live, work or travel.

The exact number and location of masts will be subject to finding suitable sites, obtaining power supply and backhaul and securing the necessary permissions through the planning system.

Across the UK, the SRN will increase the proportion of landmass where all mobile networks provide 4G services from 67% to 84% 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.

When the SRN is completed, every mobile operator will reach at least 90% of UK landmass, with a combined coverage of 95%.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales, Minister David Davies MP, said:

“Digital and mobile connectivity is vital to a successful economy and the UK Government’s collaboration with industry on the Shared Rural Network is delivering improvements for Wales. With 30 new mobile masts proposed for Wales, this scheme promises to eliminate signal ‘not spots’, increase reliability and make significant improvements for many communities as we build back better from the pandemic.”

Lee Waters MS, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, said:

“I’m pleased to see this partnership by the industry to improve mobile coverage in rural areas. Now more than ever we appreciate the importance of reliable mobile and internet connections.  Although telecommunications is not devolved, we have worked closely with mobile operators to help ensure that all parts of Wales can access mobile services. The Shared Rural Network will make a difference in those communities with poor mobile coverage.”

Mark Evans, CEO of O2, said:

“The Shared Rural Network presents a new and more collaborative way of delivering greater investment in infrastructure to improve mobile digital connectivity – a high impact enabler of economic growth.  I am delighted that O2 is working in partnership with other mobile operators to deliver the Shared Rural Network, which will support individuals, businesses and communities across rural Wales.”

Robert Finnegan, CEO of Three UK, said:

“Mobile connectivity is absolutely critical for communities around the UK helping to support local economies and keeping people connected with their friends and family. The Shared Rural Network will have a transformative effect on coverage in Wales and it is great to be working with the rest of the industry to achieve this.”

Nick Jeffery, CEO of Vodafone UK, said:

“We know connectivity is vital and the only way to fill the holes in the UK’s mobile coverage is to work together. Our unique collaboration with O2 and Three will deliver new sites in parts of Wales that need better connectivity. Delivering the Shared Rural Network will make a huge difference to communities across the UK.”

-ENDS-

* https://www.gov.uk/government/news/shared-rural-network

Notes for Editors:

 

  1. The Shared Rural Network is a £1bn programme to improve rural mobile coverage and was agreed by the mobile network operators, Government and Ofcom in March 2020. Funded by the mobile industry and Government, investment will be made in new and existing phone masts to increase all operators’ 4G coverage to at least 90% of UK landmass and their aggregate coverage to 95% by 2026.  It will provide guaranteed coverage to an additional 280,000 premises and 16,000km of roads and boost ‘in car’ coverage on around 45,000 km of road and better indoor coverage in around 1.2m business premises and homes.