Better coverage in the country. The Shared Rural Network.

A figure you may not see in many headlines is the fact that just 66% of the UK landmass has 4G coverage from all four mobile operators. With all this talk about 5G, it’s surprising that we’ve not got a higher 4G coverage.

Of course, the operative term there is “landmass”. Most of the time you’ll see a “popuation coverage” figure, and that will be a lot higher because masts tend to get erected where most people live and work.

For those out in rural areas though, they’re sometimes lower down the list. Getting 4G or 5G out to the areas that people sometimes just drive or walk through isn’t as important. It’s more difficult too – getting the high-speed links out to remote masts, around mountains and other obstacles is expensive and difficult. Plus you’ll sometimes find more resistance to the masts being put up in the scenic, picturesque areas that need coverage.

So today it’s good to see an agreement between operators to build new mobile phone masts collaboratively and share existing mast sites in order to push rural coverage out much further. Vodafone and the other network operators have now agreed an industry-wide scheme to make 4G available to 95% of the UK landmass by 2025. This is on top of the 99% population (there’s that magic word again) coverage Vodafone already delivers.

It’s called the Shared Rural Network (SRN) and will make the UK one of the best countries for geographic mobile coverage in Europe.

The agreement will also mean far fewer new masts need to be installed, helping to save energy and reduce planning concerns. Vodafone are committed to adding 5G to as many sites as possible.

Vodafone UK Chief Executive Officer Nick Jeffery (pictured above) told us..

There is no other scheme like this in the world. It will spell an end to annoying mobile ‘not spots’ for hundreds of thousands of people living, working and travelling in the more remote parts of the UK. By working together, we will deliver better coverage while offering more choice for consumers and businesses using far fewer masts.

This is all part of the government’s investment of £1 billion to boost 4G coverage in rural areas.