In a landmark move, Three UK has successfully implemented 100 4G sites as part of the Shared Rural Network (SRN), extending reach to some of the UK’s most remote areas. A significant number of these stations, 65 to be precise, are located in Scotland. This move has improved mobile coverage by approximately 2,800km2 and has brought new 4G connectivity to more than 37,000 premises.

Chief Network Officer of Three UK, Iain Milligan, emphasized the importance of delivering a robust network that supports local economies and communities across the country. “The 100th site in Three’s SRN network is another significant milestone and will transform rural access to 4G,” said Milligan.

This step is part of the bigger SRN project which is a £1 billion initiative jointly undertaken by the four mobile operators in the UK and the national government. The ambitious aim is to broaden geographic 4G coverage to 95% of the country by the end of 2025. The project requires detailing upgrades for existing infrastructure and deploying new equipment that would be shared among all operators. The SRN initiative is received £500 million funding from the government and an equal amount contributed by the mobile companies.

Despite a modest start in 2020, the SRN has recently witnessed accelerated progress which could be attributed to the extensive research and planning required for developing mobile sites in remote areas.

Vodafone too has actively participated by activating two new sites in Dumfries and Galloway, increasing its SRN network count to 49 sites. Virgin Media O2 reportedly stood parallel with a similar count of new sites built or upgraded, taking its tally to 50 as of May. EE has selected a different approach by predominantly upgrading its existing sites. To celebrate, EE announced earlier this year that it had upgraded around 1,500 sites across the UK, delivering 4G coverage to more than 2,000 square miles.

The industry’s efforts are transforming remote regions, and this momentum prompts an engaging question – is the UK on track to achieve its high-reaching coverage goals? The digital economy event, Connected Britain, presents a perfect forum for this discussion among the operators.

Related news this week includes the exploration of a £160m satellite fund by the UK government; Nokia’s partnership with Sanmina Corporation seeking a portion of BEAD funding, and High Court’s decision to reject BT’s attempts to sue Virgin Mobile.