Lockdown has meant we’ve become increasingly reliant on our mobile phones to keep in touch with our loved ones or even do our job remotely. That of course does mean we need good network connections to make that happen, and if we live in one of our beautiful rural areas here in Wales that’s not always the case. That is now about to change with the SHARED RURAL NETWORK.

The Shared Rural Network (SRN) will deliver reliable mobile broadband to 95% of the UK, addressing the digital divide by improving 4G coverage in the areas that need it most.

Through the programme, UK’s four mobile network operators EE, O2, Three and Vodafone expect to:

  • Provide coverage to an additional 280,000 premises and for people in cars on an additional 16,000km of the UK’s roads.
  • Improve geographic coverage to 79% of Areas of Natural Beauty, up from 51%, and 74% of National Parks from 41%, benefitting millions of visitors every year.

By upgrading their existing networks and working together on shared infrastructure and new sites, the MNOs and Government will transform mobile coverage in rural areas. Individually, each operator will reach 90% geographic coverage, which will result in 84% of the UK having 4G coverage from all four operators, increasing choice and boosting productivity in rural areas.

Here in Wales it’s particularly good news. The SRN will see 4G coverage from all four operators rise to a minimum of 80%, up from 58% in 2020.

We’ve been speaking to Brendan O’Reilly who is Chief Technology Officer at O2 to find out more about the Shared Rural Network.

BRENDAN O’REILLY – SHARED RURAL NETWORK

These improvements to mobile coverage will allow rural businesses to prosper and rural communities to thrive. Businesses will benefit from increased ease of navigation, improvements in marketing and access to documents. Visitors to remote areas of the UK will have better access to online information, boosting the UK’s tourism industry.

The SRN is a sustainable approach to the challenge of delivering rural mobile coverage. The programme will transform 4G coverage without duplicating infrastructure, minimising the impact on our countryside. 

This is a really big deal for many people and communities here in South Wales. TO find out more about the progress of the scheme, just go here, SRN.

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