News | 25 Oct 2019

Vodafone reaches landmark agreement to deliver major boost in rural mobile coverage

Vodafone customers in rural areas will receive a major improvement in mobile coverage and signal strength over the next six years.

Together with the other network operators, Vodafone today agreed a new industry-wide scheme to make 4G available to 95% of the UK landmass by 2025. This is on top of the 99% population coverage Vodafone already delivers.

In an unprecedented move, the mobile operators have agreed to work together to build new mobile phone masts and share existing ones with the support of HM Government. Called the Shared Rural Network (SRN), it will make the UK one of the best countries for geographic mobile coverage in Europe and ensure that UK consumers and businesses receive a wider choice of providers in remote areas.

The agreement will also mean far fewer new masts need to be installed, helping to save energy and reduce planning concerns.

In addition, Vodafone will also look to make as many sites as possible 5G-ready so customers can benefit from the new, faster and more reliable technology as it is rolled out more widely. Vodafone already has 5G in more places than any other operator and intends to extend its network to rural areas over the next few years.

Vodafone UK Chief Executive Officer Nick Jeffery said: “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.

We will also bring 5G supported by full fibre to rural communities across the UK. From Northeast Scotland down to the Isles of Scilly, we are already delivering fast and reliable digital communications. We want to end the rural digital divide and provide a boost for the rural economy as more people get access to vital digital services. I’m proud Vodafone has led the way in this.”

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Notes to editors:

  • In 2019, 66% of the UK landmass has 4G coverage from all four mobile operators. By working together, we pledge that this figure will rise to 92% by the end of 2025, meaning that 95% of the UK landmass will have a 4G signal. The timetable is subject to the availability of public funding.

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed line connections, home and office broadband and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Having made the UK’s first mobile phone call and sent the first text message, Vodafone has a history as a tech pioneer. In 2018 we made the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G, and were first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester. We now have 5G in more places than anyone else, with multiple locations now live across the UK and the rest of Europe.

Today we serve more than 18 million mobile and fixed line customers in the UK, with 4G network coverage at 99%.  Our customers voted us the UK’s Best Mobile Network at the 2018 Trusted Reviews Awards – for the second year in a row. To help deliver Gigabit UK, our full-fibre broadband roll-out programme now covers 15 UK towns and cities through partnerships with CityFibre and Openreach.

Connectivity is at the heart of what we do as it gives us a huge opportunity for good. We are using our network, products, talents and technology to help society prosper and respond to significant social and environmental issues.  Our free Digital Parenting magazine is helping families and schools across the UK to navigate the online world safely. Meanwhile, the Vodafone Foundation’s work with researchers at Imperial College is developing personalised cancer treatment using the processing power of smartphones.

We are part of Vodafone Group, one of the world’s largest technology communications companies, with mobile operations in 26 countries, partnerships with mobile networks in 55 more, and fixed broadband operations in 19 markets.  As of 30 September 2019, Vodafone Group had approximately 625 million mobile customers, 27 million fixed broadband customers, and 22 million TV customers – including all of the customers in Vodafone’s joint ventures and associates.

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