EE sets new 4G target for Shared Rural Network
Written by: Richard Hook | Published:
Coastal cove in Dorset with blue skies The Jurassic Coast of Dorset and Devon is one of the locations set to benefit from the SRN (credit: 5GRuralDorset)

BT-owned EE has announced plans to upgrade more than 2,000 mobile sites to 4G by June 2024 as part of the operator's commitment to the Shared Rural Network (SRN).

The government and four of the UK's leading mobile network operators - EE, O2 (now Virgin Media 02), Three UK and Vodafone – set out a plan to achieve 95 per cent geographic 4G coverage in the UK by 2025 when launching the SRN in 2019. Under the SRN proposal, the four operators pledged to invest £530m to share existing masts and infrastructure in areas where there is limited mobile network coverage.

Since the launch, EE has upgraded 853 areas to 4G coverage and with the new update it has pledged to significantly accelerate its upgrade programme by mid-2024, aiming to improve mobile coverage at an additional 925 sites in England, 359 sites in Scotland, 125 sites in Northern Ireland and 123 sites in Wales.

For their part, Vodafone, Three, and VMO2 signed an agreement to build and share 222 new 4G mobile masts in February of this year to match existing infrastructure that EE had in place.

In total, more than 2,000 sites will have been upgraded to 4G by June 2024 as part of the SRN programme, with all of the network available to the four operators. Overall the project should provide coverage for 240,000 premises currently without service as well as greatly boosting coverage on the roads in rural areas.

Philip Jansen, chief executive of BT Group, said: “Today we’ve made a renewed commitment to boost rural connectivity, helping improve mobile performance regardless of location. The investment BT has made in rural areas means we have the infrastructure in place to extend our 4G coverage footprint even further, minimising the number of new sites we need to build to ensure everyone has access to reliable connectivity.”

Earlier this year, the Department of Culture, Media & Sport announced proposals to “eliminate mobile signal blindspots in rural areas and on roads” by allowing mobile companies to build masts up to five metres taller in another move to build on the impact of the SRN in improving coverage.

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