The Shared Rural Network (SRN) is transforming mobile coverage, countrywide. The project was developed by the UK’s four mobile network operators (MNOs) with support from Government. The programme will make 4G mobile broadband available to 95% of the UK. The operators expect this will extend mobile coverage to an additional 280,000 premises and for people in cars on an additional 16,000km of the UK’s roads, boosting productivity and investment in rural areas.
The project consists of MNOs investing to extend their coverage by upgrading their existing networks, working together on shared infrastructure and building new sites, with new government-funded masts being built to target areas with no mobile coverage from any operator. Through its work, the SRN will increase the parts of the UK that get a mobile service from all operators from 66% to 84%, improving consumer choice.
Each of the MNOs’ individual networks will cover 90% of the UK, enabling rural businesses and communities to thrive.
To deliver the programme, the mobile network operators (MNOs) will invest in upgrading their existing network, shared infrastructure and new phone masts. This will eliminate the majority of partial not-spots – areas where there is currently coverage from at least one, but not all operators.
The Government is providing additional investment to eliminate total not-spots – those hard-to-reach areas where there is currently no coverage from any operator.
Combined, this will result 95% of the country receiving good 4G coverage from at least one operator, boosting productivity and investment in rural areas.
The full benefits of the SRN will be delivered over the life of the programme, but we anticipate that rural areas around the UK will start to see improvements to 4G coverage long before its completion.
As part of the programme, each of the mobile network operators will individually reach 90% geographic 4G coverage. Collectively, this will provide 4G coverage by at least one operator to 95% of the UK.
The roll out programme and timings for delivery are currently in development and will be published in due course.
For more information about how the SRN programme will impact your constituents and how you can support the SRN in your area, please contact the mobile network operators’ representative body, Mobile UK.
A partial mobile not-spot is a geographic area served by at least one, but not all four mobile network operators (MNOs). Currently 66% of the UK is served by all four operators with 4G.
A total mobile not-spot is a geographic area that receives no 4G coverage from any MNO. Currently 9% of the UK, by geography, is in a 4G total not spot.
You can find out the available coverage from the four mobile network operators (MNOs) in any given area using Ofcom’s mobile coverage checker.
You can also visit the 4G coverage checkers on each of the mobile operators’ websites.
Fourth generation mobile services, known as 4G, give people faster access to the internet and make it much quicker to surf the web on your mobile, tablets and laptops.
Rural businesses will be able to work more efficiently, for example by accepting electronic payments, being in better contact with potential and existing clients, and facilitating flexible and remote working for their employees.
EE, O2, Three and Vodafone are the only mobile network operators (MNOs) in the UK that have a physical network.
Any other mobile providers will be using one of these four mobile operators’ networks to offer mobile services to their customers through that MNO’s network. Improving mobile coverage for the four MNOs means improved mobile coverage for customers of all mobile service providers.
All four mobile network operators (MNOs) – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone – are working together to deliver combined geographic coverage from at least one operator to 95% of the landmass of the UK.
Individually, each operator will reach 90% geographic coverage. This will result in 84% of the UK having 4G coverage from all four operators, up from 66% in 2020.
People living in Scotland and Wales will see the biggest coverage improvements because the landmass coverage in these nations is starting from a lower base.
In Scotland, the SRN will see 4G coverage from all four operators rise to a minimum of 74%, up from 42% in 2020, and coverage from at least one MNO increase to 91%, allowing rural business to prosper and rural communities to thrive.
In Wales, the SRN will see 4G coverage from all four operators rise to a minimum of 80%, up from 58% in 2020, and coverage from at least one MNO increase to 95%, allowing rural business to prosper and rural communities to thrive.
In Northern Ireland, the SRN will see 4G coverage from all four operators rise to a minimum of 85%, up from 75% in 2020, and coverage from at least one MNO increase to 98%, allowing rural business to prosper and rural communities to thrive.
In England, the SRN will see 4G coverage from all four operators rise to a minimum of 90%, up from 81% in 2020, and coverage from at least one MNO increase to 98%, allowing rural business to prosper and rural communities to thrive.
The SRN will see both Scotland and Wales get the greatest boost to 4G coverage from all four mobile network operators, from 42% to 74%, and 58% to 80%, of landmass respectively, improving coverage where people live, work and travel.
The SRN will be funded jointly by the mobile network operators (MNOs) and the Government. Collectively, the MNOs will contribute £532 million to the SRN, in order to address partial not-spots, a geographic area with 4G coverage from least one, but not all four mobile network operators. The Government will invest an additional £500 million to provide new mobile masts in areas with no 4G coverage.
By sharing infrastructure, the SRN will reduce the carbon footprint associated with achieving improved mobile coverage, because fewer mobile sites will need to be installed, operated and maintained than would otherwise be the case. What’s more, by providing better mobile connectivity to rural businesses, more services can be digitised in rural areas, reducing the carbon footprint of businesses. For example, business owners can increase the number of virtual meetings, reduce the number of face-to-face meetings and cut back on unnecessary travel.
To provide 4G coverage to areas where people do not have it today – typically in more rural areas – new mobile masts will have to be built. Under the SRN, new masts will be shared between multiple network operators, reducing the number of new masts required overall, and minimising the impact on the landscape. Operators will also be upgrading sites to deliver more coverage from their existing network. To achieve the same coverage targets without sharing infrastructure would require a far greater number of masts to be built.
All new mast developments will follow local planning processes.
The details of the procurements are being developed and will be made public as soon as they are ready. In essence, SRN will be procuring the majority of items and services needed to acquire, design and build the publicly funded sites including site construction along with the equipment and services.
The procurements will be run under public sector rules and regulations. The exact types of procurement or procurements are still to be finalised but, at this stage, we expect a “Restricted” procurement to set up a Framework and an “Open” procurement for Site Select services. Details will be published on the website (srn.org.uk) as they become available.
The dates for the start of any procurement(s) are still to be finalised and may depend on factors outside our control such as the timing of public funding. The current planning shows the procurements to start early 2021 though there will be pre-market activities (meetings and questionnaires) before then.
It is planned to meet with some potential bidders between October 2020 and the start of the procurements. These will be mainly 1-2-1 meetings though a larger supplier event is also being considered. More information on these activities will be published on srn.org.uk.
Please register your interest using the form on srn.org.uk/procurement. Following receipt of an expression of interest the authority will send a Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA) to the supplier to sign online. Once the NDA has been signed and verified by the authority, the supplier will be provided with an RFI.
As with all public sector procurements, any procurement will be published for any potential bidder to register interest and get involved. The process for publishing will depend on whether it is before the end of 2020 when an OJEU will be used or, after 1st January 2021, when the UK process will be adopted (using “Contracts Finder”).
The procurements will be open to organisations of all sizes.
The procurements will be run using guidelines and processes detailed in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (“PCR15”) or as amended by the UK after the 1st January 2021.
The overall expected spend will be commensurate with the size and complexity of the sites involved.
Please contact email@example.com for more information
The details of which companies are registering interest are confidential. But we will be asking each that does register if they are open to us publishing (either publicly on our website or on a 1-2-1 basis via email) their contact details for organisations such as yours to be able to contact them.