Shared Rural Network

The Shared Rural Network (SRN) will deliver reliable mobile broadband to 95% of the UK, addressing the digital divide by improving 4G coverage in the areas that need it most.

To learn more about planned improvements in your area, visit the Forecast Coverage Improvements by Region page.

Through the programme, UK’s four mobile network operators (MNOs) – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone expect to:

  • Provide coverage to an additional 280,000 premises and for people in cars on an additional 16,000km of the UK’s roads.
  • Improve geographic coverage to 79% of Areas of Natural Beauty, up from 51%, and 74% of National Parks from 41%, benefitting millions of visitors every year.

By upgrading their existing networks and working together on shared infrastructure and new sites, the MNOs and Government will transform mobile coverage in rural areas. Individually, each operator will reach 90% geographic coverage, which will result in 84% of the UK having 4G coverage from all four operators, increasing choice and boosting productivity in rural areas.

To deliver the programme, MNOs will invest £532m to eliminate the majority of ‘partial not-spots’ – areas which receive coverage from at least one, but not all, operators. The UK Government will provide a further £500m to build new masts to eliminate ‘total not-spots’ – hard to reach areas where there is currently no coverage at all.

The SRN is a sustainable approach to the challenge of delivering rural mobile coverage. The programme will transform 4G coverage without duplicating infrastructure, minimising the impact on our countryside.

Programme timeline

The Shared Rural Network formally started on 9 March 2020, with the signing of the Grant Agreement between the UK Government and four mobile network operators (MNOs), setting out how the programme would be governed. Since then, significant progress has been made, on both the industry and publicly funded elements of the programme (click image to enlarge).

Key milestones include:

  • Summer 2020: the first part of the programme, which sees the four MNOs work together to tackle the issue of partial not-spots began with the first sites going live.
  • June 2020: MNOs submitted their initial Radio Plans for the Shared Rural Network to Ofcom.
  • January/February 2021: under the industry led element of the programme, the MNOs announced their plans to bring more choice to consumers to address the issue of partial not-spots.
  • March 2021: the Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) published a Transparency Notice, which sets out how the programme meets the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement subsidy control principles. This marked the start of the Grant Funding Period.

Building a Mobile Network

It takes a lot of planning to create a mobile network, often using complex processes and terminology. We have created several factsheets which help explain some of the more technical aspects, including how a mast location is chosen, through to the different parts of the mast. We will be adding to these fact sheets as the programme progresses:

Benefits of 4G and the Shared Rural Network

The benefits of reliable 4G mobile connectivity are far reaching and have positive impacts on many aspects of day-to-day life. There are many personal and commercial benefits, as well as positive impacts on healthcare, education, tourism, remote working, and accessing online services, to name a few. The Shared Rural Network will help those who live and work in rural communities to achieve their full potential through improved mobile connectivity.

We have created some helpful information sheets that provide an overview of the programme and the benefits of 4G connectivity. Click on the links below to learn more about how the Shared Rural Network will make a difference to those living and working in rural communities across the UK:

For information about how the SRN relates to wider industry issues, please visit the trade association, Mobile UK.