Ambitious programme to address rural mobile not spots

Clwyd West AM Darren Millar has welcomed the announcement of an ambitious new programme to improve 4G mobile coverage and banish rural not-spots.

The programme, named the Shared Rural Network, will see customers in rural areas receive a major improvement in 4G mobile coverage. It will also make the UK one of the best for geographic mobile coverage in Europe and ensure that UK consumers and businesses receive a wider choice of providers in remote areas.  

Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan is supportive of the £530 million proposal from the UK’s mobile network operators for a Shared Rural Network with the potential for it to be matched by £500 million investment from Government.

This would be a world-first deal with EE, O2, Three and Vodafone investing in a network of new and existing phone masts they would all share. Consumers will be able to rely on their own provider’s network to use their mobile phones wherever they are. The benefits will be felt across all four nations of the UK with the greatest coverage improvements in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

The programme follows UK Government proposals for an overhaul of planning rules and is part of the Prime Minister’s plan to level up the country with world-class digital infrastructure across the country to make sure homes and businesses are better connected. 

Welcoming the announcement,  Darren said:

“This scheme is fantastic news for not only the country as a whole but for the many residents and businesses in rural areas in Conwy and Denbighshire who have been crying out for improved 4G coverage for years.

“Mobile connectivity plays a vital role in supporting the economy and keeping communities in touch and it is extremely concerning, and totally unacceptable, that so many people are still finding it difficult to get a reliable mobile connection. This scheme aims to put an end to that by making 4G available to 95% of the UK landmass by 2025. More people in rural areas will benefit from the speed and efficiency of services on the go - from booking travel, shopping online or speaking to friends and family. Better 4G connectivity will make flexible working easier, boost regional economic growth and close the digital divide that exists across the country.

“The digital economy is growing seven times faster than the rest of the economy combined, and this is largely due to the vast adoption of mobile technologies such as smart phones and tablets. Ensuring people and businesses in Wales can get good mobile coverage is absolutely vital.”