Sunday, 25 August 2019

O2: New UK government must make bold decisions to boost rural mobile coverage

Chris Kelly
Monday 05 August 19

O2’s CEO has called on the new Conservative government to ratify the proposed Shared Rural Network suggested by the UK’s big four mobile network operators

Boris Johnson’s newly appointed telecoms ministers must be prepared to act decisively and make bold decisions on the Shared Rural Network proposed by Britain’s mobile network operators, or risk jeopardising connectivity for the country’s rural communities. EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 have presented a united front to the government in their request to create a single Shared Mobile Network that leverages each operators&rsquo…

Boris Johnson’s newly appointed telecoms ministers must be prepared to act decisively and make bold decisions on the Shared Rural Network proposed by Britain’s mobile network operators, or risk jeopardising connectivity for the country’s rural communities.

EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 have presented a united front to the government in their request to create a single Shared Mobile Network that leverages each operators’ existing footprint as well as joint investment for new network buildout in economically unviable areas.

Discussions with Britain’s former Digital Minister, Margot James, had been progressing well, before the fall of Theresa May’s government last month.

In a statement to the press, O2’s chief executive officer, Mark Evans urged James’ successors to act decisively to ratify the proposed deal.

“If the government truly believes that mobile connectivity is an essential service, it must take the decisions that are required to enable its delivery. To do otherwise would deprive businesses and consumers in rural Britain of better mobile coverage and discourage the investment needed to deliver widespread connectivity, 5G leadership and a strong economy,” he said.  

“That’s why the UK’s four mobile network operators have developed plans in recent months for a Shared Rural Network. It will transform and expand our respective rural digital infrastructure into a single network asset that we all use and share. This will reduce the cost of delivery, strengthen the business case for investment in more rural areas and deliver improved coverage in rural areas across all four home nations of the UK to people that may not have had coverage before.

“Over the past few months we have had positive dialogue about the SRN with the DCMS and Ofcom. Now is the time for the new government to be bold – to continue the momentum and progress of those talks, so that full agreement can be reached. The implementation of the SRN can then begin to lift all-operator 4G landmass coverage from its current level of 67 per cent to 92 per cent.”

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