EE is to upgrade 4G coverage in more than 200 rural locations across Wales by June 2024, as part of the Shared Rural Network (SRN) programme agreed last year.
The Shared Rural Network – an agreement between the UK’s four mobile network operators and UK Government – is aiming to extend 4G coverage to 95% of the UK’s geography by 2025.
The upgrades announced today are part of the first phase of the SRN programme, where EE will invest to significantly reduce ‘partial not-spots’ in mobile coverage.
EE has already upgraded its 4G network in 97 rural locations across Wales since the SRN deal was signed in March 2020. Today, EE has pledged to extend 4G in a further 123 locations in Wales, bringing the total to 220 in this phase of the programme. All sites have been made available for other operators to share under the SRN scheme.
The 123 rural locations that will get 4G upgrades between now and June 2024 are spread across Wales, including:
- 27 locations in Powys
- 15 locations in Gwynedd
- 13 locations in Carmarthenshire
- 12 locations in Pembrokeshire
- 9 locations in Denbighshire
- 7 locations in Ynys Mon / Anglesey
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.
“EE is still the only provider of 4G coverage in many places across the UK, and we encourage other operators to recognise the opportunity sharing our sites offers to fill gaps in their networks.”
National Farmers Union (NFU) Cymru Director John Mercer said: “NFU Cymru is pleased to see this progress on the Shared Rural Network. Improvements to 4G coverage has been an ongoing lobbying objective for the union for some time, so this announcement is great news for Welsh farming businesses and our rural communities. With the advent of the digital age seeing so many aspects of farm management moving online, it’s absolutely vital that our members have access to fast and reliable connectivity.”
UK Government Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said: “We know the incredible impact better connectivity will have on countryside communities. That’s why we struck a £1 billion deal, jointly funded by the government and mobile firms, to bring fast and reliable 4G mobile coverage to 95 per cent of the UK.
“EE’s plans show good progress and will increase choice for consumers and boost productivity in rural areas. We will continue to work closely with them to close down further gaps in rural mobile signal.”
Across the UK, 853 areas have already been upgraded since the SRN deal was signed – 449 in England, 265 in Scotland, 97 in Wales, and 42 in Northern Ireland. Based on today’s announcement, EE has pledged to extend 4G in a further 1,532 locations across the UK by mid-2024 – 925 in England, 359 in Scotland, 125 in Northern Ireland, and 123 in Wales – totalling 2,385.