O2, Three and Vodafone have agreed to come together to build over 200 new mobile masts to eliminate patchy 4G in rural communities across the UK.

The networks will begin construction on 222 masts this year with a completion date set for 2024. The new sites include 124 in Scotland, 33 in Wales, 11 in Northern Ireland and 54 in England, with the biggest increases in coverage expected to be seen in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The three networks will share the masts under jointly owned Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited as part of the government’s £1 billion plan to build a Shared Rural Network. The aim of the program, which was announced last March, is to boost 4G coverage in remote areas, giving consumers more choice in phone contracts regardless of where they live and to improve economic growth.

While many of us have moved our focus onto 5G in the last year, only 67% of landmass is actually home to all four of the UK’s 4G services. The Shared Rural Network will deliver all four to 84% of the UK and “virtually eliminate” Partial Not Spots – areas in which 4G options are limited to one to three of those networks.

Beyond the Shared Rural Network, the Government plans to spend an additional £500 million to ensure each mobile operator reaches at least 90% of the UK, with a total 95% of landmass expected to offer 4G coverage by the end of 2025.

“I’m delighted to see major progress being made to banish ‘not spots’ of poor or patchy mobile coverage. This new infrastructure will unlock the potential of rural communities in all four nations and offer greater choice of fast and reliable 4G services,” said Minister for Digital Infrastructure Matt Warman.

“As part of this new Shared Rural Network the Government is also investing half a billion pounds on new masts in areas without any signal at all, meaning no one is left behind.”

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