Dunne welcomes £1 billion deal for ‘Shared Rural Network’ to improve mobile coverage

South Shropshire MP Philip Dunne has welcomed a scheme to extend mobile coverage in hard-to-reach rural areas making poor mobile phone coverage a thing of the past has been given the green light, thanks to a major new deal between the Government and UK mobile network operators.

The ‘Shared Rural Network’ will mean that high quality 4G coverage will be available for 95 percent of the UK by 2026 which means consumers will get good 4G signal wherever they live, work or travel. The new plans involves four operators (EE, O2, Three and Vodafone) joining forces to create a new organisation to deliver the ‘Shared Rural Network’. Each will be able to make the maximum use out of existing and new phone masts by being able to host their own equipment on them allowing their customers to access a mobile signal. The scheme will cost more than £1billion made up of £530m from the mobile operators and a £500m investment from the Government.

The agreement means the government has delivered on its manifesto commitment to take action to end poor mobile coverage in the countryside within 100 days of the election.

Mr Dunne, who was one of 78 cross-party MPs who wrote to the Secretary of State for Digital Culture, Media and Sport last year to ask for government support for the scheme, said:

“I am delighted the government has reached agreement with mobile phone providers to finally tackle the issue of poor mobile signal, which are a real problem in areas like South Shropshire.

This deal sees the four main operators agreeing to share the network of new and existing masts, which will mean customers will be able to rely on their own provider’s network wherever they are. This will make a big difference to South Shropshire, where coverage can vary greatly depending on which provider you are with and where you might live or work.”

The initiative, which is a world first, follows 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 UK to make sure homes and businesses are better connected.