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Mobile Phones: Rural Areas

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 173009, tabled on 22 March 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what proportion of the £1 billion budget for the Shared Rural Network will be invested during stage one.

Answered on

24 March 2021

The Shared Rural Network programme will be delivered in two parts running in parallel. The first phase will see the four Mobile Network Operators collectively invest over £530 million in a shared network of new and existing phone masts. This will help tackle partial not spots - areas where there is currently coverage from at least one, but not all operators. Starting second and running in parallel the government is investing over £500 million to go even further to significantly reduce total not-spots - those hard-to-reach areas where there is currently no coverage from any operator.

The mobile network operators have already commenced work on the first element of the programme, which is funded by the industry and are on track to eliminate the majority of partial not-spots by mid-2024.

Now that funding has been released for the total not-spot element of the programme, the government and the operators remain confident that combined coverage will be delivered to 95% of the UK by the end of 2025, with areas around the UK starting to see improvements to 4G coverage long before completion.