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Julian Sturdy - Strong Voice for York Outer

Julian Sturdy

Member of Parliament for York Outer

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Julian welcomes ‘Shared Rural Network’ to improve rural mobile coverage

March 9, 2020

Julian has welcomed today’s announcement of a scheme to extend mobile coverage in hard-to-reach rural areas, thanks to a major new deal between the government and UK mobile network operators.

The ‘Shared Rural Network’ will mean that high quality 4G coverage will be available for 95% of the UK by 2026. 4G mobile coverage is up to 10 times faster than 3G, and allows for videos to be streamed to phones. The government’s own figures estimate that achieving the 95% coverage ambition could add £75 billion to the British economy.

The new plan involves four operators (EE, O2, Three and Vodafone) joining forces to create a new organisation to deliver the ‘Shared Rural Network’. Each will be able to make the maximum use out of existing and new phone masts by being able to host their own equipment on them allowing their customers to access a mobile signal. The scheme will cost more than £1billion, made up of £530m from the mobile operators and a £500m investment from the Government.

The ‘Shared Rural Network’ will eliminate the substantial majority of the country’s partial not-spots, with the added benefit of increasing competition for mobile services, especially in rural areas coverage across the country. It also improves road coverage by reaching a further 9900 miles of roads, ensuring that the UK has some of the best mobile coverage in Europe.

Julian was one of 78 cross-party MPs who wrote to the Secretary of State for Digital Culture, Media and Sport last year to ask for government support for the scheme, and has campaigned for improvements to benefit York area residents for several years.

Today he said: “I am glad the government is taking concrete steps to improve mobile coverage. 4G is now a basic utility, which needs to be available for all communities. For too long, there has been a significant variation between service in the centre of York, and outlying neighbourhoods, to the disadvantage of households and local businesses.

Over the last two years I have worked with other MPs to push mobile operators and central government to improve services, and I will continue to watch closely to ensure tangible improvements result from today’s good news.

Last year I met with the Secretary of State for Digital and Culture, asking him to keep the pressure on operators to devise a solution to widen coverage, and I also led 41 other MPs in sending a joint-letter to the Chief Executive of Ofcom, the national communications regulator, requesting annual monitoring of mobile operators’ commitments on increasing rural 4G mobile coverage.”